What you can eat for breakfast in diabetes

June 14, 2020

What you can eat for breakfast in diabetes

Try these recipes and tips to keep your blood sugar levels under control when you eat breakfast and even meals in general. 

Having a balanced breakfast is important, especially if you have diabetes. In fact, researchers have found that skipping breakfast increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, knowing exactly what to eat can be tricky.

Having a meal plan can help you save time and prevent you from making a decision that could raise your blood sugar level in the short term, which at the same time also affects your glucose control later in the day. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Why it is important to have a diabetes-friendly breakfast

Studies have shown that eating a breakfast high in fat and moderate protein could help you reduce fasting blood sugar, A1c, and weight. The most likely reason is that these types of breakfast options are lower in carbohydrates.

Some people with diabetes experience higher blood sugar levels in the morning, like the liver, breaks down sugar at night, and the cells may also be slightly more resistant to insulin at this time of day.

On the other hand, blood sugar tends to rise after breakfast, up to two times more than after lunch.

A high blood sugar level after meals (postprandial) can lead to carbohydrate cravings, as the sugar stays in the bloodstream instead of going to the cells, and the cells then tell the body that you need to eat more. sugar (or carbohydrates) to feed you effectively.

Having a low carbohydrate breakfast will minimize the resulting glucose response and make your blood sugar better balanced throughout the day.

Understand how macronutrients work

All foods can be classified into macronutrient categories such as carbohydrates, fats, or proteins. All of them provide your body with the energy you need to function daily.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that 20% of daily calories be from protein, 20-35% of daily calories from fat, and 45-60% of daily calories from carbohydrates.

Your total calorie count and how much you need to consume for each macronutrient depends on your age, sex, how much exercise you do, your blood glucose control, and any medications you are taking.

If you need help with your diet, it is important to work with a nutritionist or a certified diabetes educator to find your personalized macronutrient ratio.

It is also important to know that not all macronutrients are the same in terms of quality: bread and broccoli are technically both carbohydrates, but they are very different in terms of nutrient load.

Processed foods like sugary breakfast cereals, meats, white bread, baked goods, and sweetened yogurts are generally low in nutrient density, which means they are not as nutritious for your body as whole grains without refining, fruits, and vegetables.


Carbohydrates are a quick source of energy, but for people with diabetes, they can raise blood sugar. When it comes to carbohydrates in a diabetes-friendly diet, fiber is the solution to look for.

Most nutritionists recommend at least 35 grams of fiber per day for people with diabetes (as opposed to 25 grams per day for a normal person) since fiber helps decrease the glucose response after a meal, helping to balance blood sugar.

In terms of breakfast options, you can try one of the following:

1. Coconut yogurt with chia seeds and raspberries.

2. Whole wheat toast with avocado (containing up to 12-15 grams of fiber); or a whole grain waffle (5 grams of fiber).

3. Plain yogurt (no added sugars or flavors) and add fruit. Consume bananas, apples, and blueberries in moderation.

Be mindful of portion sizes when planning a carbohydrate-focused meal – your hands can serve as great visual tools. A serving of grains is usually 1/2 cup of dried grains, which usually fits in a cupped hand. You can measure the number of cooked beans in 1-cup measurements or about two cupped hands.

Healthy fats

Don’t avoid healthy fats: They are an essential part of a healthy diet, as they help with vitamin absorption, hormone production, and heart and brain function. However, not all fats are created equal.

Consume vegetable fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and coconut; along with high-quality sources of animal products such as milk and whole milk from grass-fed cows.

These were once thought to cause high cholesterol, however, experts now suggest that whole dairy can help keep cholesterol balanced.

In terms of servings, a serving of liquid fats like olive oil or butter is usually a teaspoon, about the size of the tip of your thumb. A serving of nuts, seeds, or avocado is one tablespoon, or about the full length of your thumb.

Look for omega-3 fatty acids, which are a special type of protective and anti-inflammatory fat. Walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and fatty fish are excellent sources of omega-3s.

You can make a chia and flaxseed pudding topped with berries, or try smoked salmon and cream cheese on toasted whole wheat bread, or add a few nuts to your smoothie to increase the amount of fat and protein.


Protein is the building block for every cell in the body and is a great source of energy. For people with diabetes, lean proteins provide energy density without a large amount of saturated fat, which could be linked to heart disease.

Consuming protein from animal-based foods like eggs and turkey sausage is pretty standard, but you could also make room for chickpeas, tofu, nuts, and seeds.

You can visualize a portion of protein by imagining a deck of cards, which is also roughly equivalent to the palm of your hand. Protein servings should remain around 85 to 170 grams.

To increase your protein intake while keeping your carbohydrate intake low, try making a shake full of protein powder (with whey, peas, or hemp protein powder); a frittata, or baked eggs and vegetables.

How to prepare a diabetic-friendly meal

There are four main pillars to consider when planning a diabetes-friendly meal or breakfast. It’s about:

Fiber: salads, whole grain bread or bran

Lean protein: eggs, fish, beans, or nuts

Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, butter, and dairy products from free-grazing animals, coconut, and nuts.

Vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, onions, and especially dark green leafy vegetables.

Focusing on these four food categories will ensure that your plate ticks all the boxes for a satisfying, nutrient-dense meal. In addition, you will prepare your body and mind to choose better meals for the rest of the day.

Diabetic-friendly recipes

The easiest way to ensure that you are having a healthy breakfast is to prepare your own food. Start small with two or three recipes that you love and stock up on groceries every week. These are some options that will not let you down:

Egg Omelet with Grilled Vegetables

You can put anything on an omelet. Using leftover vegetables from the night before is a great way to increase your nutrition, avoid waste, and increase your fiber intake to feel full longer. Roasted vegetables add a nice texture and sweetness to the omelet.

Frozen yogurt dessert

Get rid of granola and syrupy fruit and try Greek yogurt (which contains more protein than regular yogurt) with fresh or frozen fruit for a breakfast rich in protein and fiber. Top with chopped walnuts to add crisp texture, flavor, protein, and healthy fats. Simple and satisfying.

A good option is coconut yogurt to include in your breakfast.

Creamy Avocado Egg Salad Wrap

Avocado contains heart-healthy fat and fiber and is an excellent substitute for mayonnaise. Just mix the chopped hard-boiled eggs with avocado and put them inside the tortilla wrap.

Bowl of blueberries and quinoa with pumpkin

Quinoa is a seed with a low glycemic index, high in fiber, and high in protein. It is an excellent substitute for oats and naturally contains no gluten. Try adding canned pumpkin to add vitamin A and fiber, and also add blueberries.

Grilled Strawberry Peanut Butter Sandwich

Instead of grilled cheese, make a grilled peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Chop some strawberries to add fiber and sweetness. The combination of protein and fiber will help you stay full and satisfied.

Walnut and berry smoothie

Berries are low in sugar and packed with nutrients. Add protein powder and healthy fats in the form of coconut milk or walnut butter, and you’re sure to feel full even hours later. As a bonus, add a little kale or spinach for additional vitamins and nutrition.

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