Try these recipes and tips to keep your blood sugar levels under control when you eat breakfast, and even at meals in general.
Eating 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 an eating plan can help you save time and prevent you from making a decision that could spike your blood sugar 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 Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast Is Important
Studies have shown that eating a breakfast high in fat and moderate protein may help 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, as the liver breaks down sugar during the night, and the cells may also be a bit 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.
High blood sugar 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 signal to the body that you need to eat more sugar (or carbohydrates) to feed you effectively.
Having a low-carb 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, fat, or protein. All provide your body with the energy it needs to function on a daily basis.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that 20% of daily calories come 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 of each macronutrient depends on your age, gender, how much you exercise, 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 certified diabetes educator to find your personalized macronutrient ratio.
It's 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 loading.
Processed foods such as 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 refine, 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 go 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), as fiber helps decrease the glucose response after a meal, helping to balance blood sugar.
In terms of breakfast options, you can try any of the following:
1. A coconut yogurt with chia seeds and raspberries.
2. Toasted whole wheat bread with avocado (containing up to 12-15 grams of fiber); or a whole grain waffle (5 grams of fiber).
3. Natural yogurt (without added sugars or flavors) and add a fruit. Eat bananas, apples, and blueberries in moderation.
Keep an eye on portions when planning a carb-focused meal - your hands can serve as great visual tools. A serving of beans is usually 1/2 cup of dry beans, which will generally fit in a cupped hand. You can measure the amount of cooked grains in 1 cup measurements or about two cupped hands.
Don't avoid healthy fats - they are an essential part of a healthy diet, helping with vitamin absorption, hormone production, and heart and brain function. However, not all fats are the same.
Consume plant-based 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 entire 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 with whole wheat toast, or add some 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 protein provides energy density without a large amount of saturated fat, which could be linked to heart disease.
Eating protein from animal 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 stay around 85 to 170 grams.
To increase your protein intake while keeping your carbohydrate intake low, try making a protein powder-filled shake (with whey, pea, or hemp protein powder); a frittata, or baked eggs and vegetables.
How to prepare a diabetic-safe meal
There are four main pillars to consider when planning a diabetes-friendly meal, or breakfast. It’s about:
· Fiber: salads, whole grain breads, or bran
· Lean protein: eggs, fish, beans, or nuts
· Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, butter and free-range animal dairy, coconut and nuts.
· Vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, onions, and especially dark leafy greens.
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 foods for the rest of the day.
Recipes suitable for diabetics
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 each week. These are some options that will not let you down:
Egg Omelet with Roasted Vegetables
You can put anything in an omelet. Using leftover veggies from the night before is a great way to boost your nutrition, avoid waste, and increase your fiber intake to feel fuller for longer. Roasted vegetables add a nice texture and sweetness to the omelet.
Frozen yogurt dessert
Ditch the granola and syrupy fruit and instead try Greek yogurt (which contains more protein than regular yogurt) with fresh or frozen fruit for a protein and fiber rich breakfast. Top it with chopped walnuts to add crunch, flavor, protein, and healthy fats. Simple and satisfying.
Creamy Avocado Egg Salad Wrap
Avocado contains heart-healthy fat and fiber, and is a great substitute for mayonnaise. Simply mix the chopped hard-boiled eggs with avocado and put them inside the tortilla wrap.
Blueberry Quinoa Bowl with Pumpkin
Quinoa is a low glycemic seed, high in fiber and high in protein. It is an excellent substitute for oatmeal and is naturally gluten free. Try adding canned pumpkin to add vitamin A and fiber, and add blueberries too.
Grilled Strawberry Peanut Butter Sandwich
Instead of grilled cheese, make a grilled peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread. Chop up some strawberries to add fiber and sweetness. The combination of protein and fiber will help keep you full and satisfied.
Nut berry smoothie
Berries are low in sugar and packed with nutrients. Add protein powder and healthy fats in the form of coconut milk or nut butter and you're sure to feel full even hours later. As a bonus, add some kale or spinach for extra vitamins and nutrition.Stores of visceral fat, or belly fat that sit around the internal organs can increase a woman’s risk of diabetes and heart disease.