5 Breakfast Foods People With Diabetes Should Eat Regularly
Breakfast is frequently called the most important meal, as it provides the nutrition and fuel to get your day started off on a high note. After all, when you wake up, you may feel groggy and low in energy. That's where a nourishing breakfast can prepare you for a productive day.
An unhealthy breakfast, however, can put you at a disadvantage, depleting you of sustainable energy and leading to a crash afterwards. Those kinds of breakfasts will be higher in refined carbs and sugars, and low in nutrients.
Plus, if you have diabetes, you need to be even more careful about sugar intake and blood sugar effects, as you want to avoid spikes and keep blood sugar as stable as possible.
You might know that pastries and bagels are not an ideal, diabetes-friendly breakfast, but even healthy foods that can be beneficial for the average person could be too high in sugar and carbs for people with diabetes. Think: sugary, packaged oatmeals, açai bowls, fruit-filled smoothies, and flavored yogurt, for example.
"When meal planning for diabetes, it's important to include a combination of protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help balance blood sugar and increase satiety to keep you full all morning," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.
Protein, fat, and fiber help to delay digestion and absorption so any rise in blood sugar after the meal is slower and better controlled. "Plus, certain foods have been shown to improve insulin resistance, so including them is a bonus," she adds.
Planning your week of diabetes-friendly breakfasts? Start with this list of the best foods to eat if you have diabetes, as well as some suggestions for how best to enjoy them.
Avocado is a source of both healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber, so it fills you up fast and for longer.
"A 2018 clinical trial that included 31 adults with overweight or obesity found that including a half or whole avocado at breakfast decreased the glucose and insulin response compared to the control," Harris-Pincus says.
Pair avocado with some extra protein, such as eggs (yolk is optional, but it does have choline for better cognitive health), and bright veggies for a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, some fruit, such as high-fiber berries, will also add natural sweetness in a moderate dose without elevating sugar levels.
2. Frozen Wild Blueberries
"Wild blueberries are a low-glycemic food that can help you maintain healthy blood sugar and have improved insulin sensitivity," Harris-Pincus says. "Plus, they have two times the antioxidant capacity of ordinary blueberries, which have been shown to fight inflammation."
If you can't find frozen wild blueberries, traditional blueberries will still benefit you in the a.m., as they have a high antioxidant and fiber content and brain-boosting nutrients. The anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to lower the risk of dementia.
"This sauce is fabulous on top of protein pancakes, oatmeal, or layered in a Greek yogurt parfait with high-fiber cereal," she says.
"Oats contain beta glucan, which is a gel-forming fiber that can help to manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels," Harris-Pincus says.
This is true for all kinds of oats, including quick, old-fashioned, steel cut, and even oat flour, so you can experiment with them all in a variety of ways. Oatmeal, granolas, and other protein toppers are good options, as long as you keep sugar down with the ingredients you add. Top plain Greek yogurt with oats for some filling fiber and sweetness.
4. Chia Seeds
These tiny seeds are superheroes for boosting satiety. "They can absorb about 10 times their weight in water, which helps to slow digestion and fill you up, and they are also a source of plant-based protein, fiber, and heart-healthy omega-3 fats," she says.
Top this Greek yogurt chia seed pudding with your favorite diced fruit or a serving of nuts or seeds. The yogurt and chia seeds are a terrific duo for providing ample protein and fiber, but you bump the fiber count with those healthy added toppings.
5. Plain Greek Yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt or skyr yogurt is a fabulous source of protein, and both have probiotics to better your gut health and fill you up.
"The probiotics found in yogurt are important for our gut health, and we are learning more and more about how critical a healthy gut is to controlling diabetes," Harris-Pincus says.
Just be sure to avoid sweetened, packaged varieties, and instead go with the unsweetened varieties, which act as a nice base for adding your own healthy sources of natural sugar (like fruit), if desired.
"Use these Greek yogurt pancakes as a canvas for adding berries, nuts, or seeds for extra fiber and protein," she says. You can add an extra dollop of yogurt for moisture instead of sugary syrup, too, which makes this stack even more diabetes-friendly for breakfast.