What to Eat for Breakfast When You Have Diabetes

carton of brown eggs
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Eating breakfast, especially if you have diabetes, or are trying to lose weight is important. But, deciding on what to eat can be tricky. Should you eat low-fat, low-carbohydrate, a meal replacement? Having a plan can help you to save time and prevent you from making an unfavorable choice.

Studies have shown that eating a larger, higher fat and higher protein breakfast may actually help to reduce blood sugars and weight.

The likely reason is that these types of breakfast choices are lower in carbohydrate. Some people with diabetes experience higher blood sugars in the morning because the liver breaks down sugar overnight and the cells can also be a bit more resistant to insulin at this time.

Also, studies have shown that blood sugars tend to rise after breakfast meals, two times higher than after lunch. High post prandial (after meal) blood sugars can result in carbohydrate cravings because, instead of using sugar for fuel, it is remaining in the blood stream and the body thinks it needs to eat sugar (or carbohydrates) to fuel itself. Another study found that healthy adults who consumed a standard 50 g carbohydrate (for example, 3/4 cup cereal with 1 cup milk and a 1/2 banana) meal had their highest peak glucose (sugar) after breakfast, lowest after lunch, and moderate after dinner.

Perhaps this is a good reason to try a lower carbohydrate breakfast.

It's worth a shot. So, ditch the bagels, cereal, muffins, and pancakes, and try one of these best breakfast picks.

Roasted Vegetable Egg Omelet or Egg Scramble

You can throw anything into an omelet. Using leftover vegetables from the night before is a great way to increase your nutrition, prevent spoilage, and increase your fiber content to help keep you full.

Roasted vegetables add a nice crunch and sweetness to an omelet. 

  • 1 cup of roasted vegetables (left over eggplant, peppers, and onions, chopped Brussel sprouts or asparagus - or whatever you have)
  • 1 egg yolk plus 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup of melon or berries

Instructions: 

  1. Heat non-stick pan on medium heat. 
  2. Coat pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil and wipe clean with a paper towel (you need just enough fat so the eggs do not stick)
  3. Pour egg whites. 
  4. Gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan, while tilting the pan to allow the still liquid egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there's no liquid left.
  5. Flip the egg whites and cook until there is no uncooked egg left.
  6. Add roasted vegetables and cheese, then lift one edge of the egg and fold it across and over, so that the edges line up. Cook until it is cooked through, it should not be runny. You can flip it if desired. 
  7. Serve with fresh fruit. 

Nutrition info: ~300 calories, 9.5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 14 g sugar, 7 g fiber, 18 g protein 

Power Yogurt or Cottage Cheese Parfait

Ditch the granola and syrupy fruit, and use low-fat Greek yogurt (which contains less carbohydrate and more protein than regular yogurt) and fresh or frozen fruit for a high protein, high fiber, satisfying breakfast.

Top with chopped nuts for added crunch, flavor, protein and healthy fats. This breakfast is simple and satisfying.

  • 6 oz low-fat Greek yogurt (you can use fat free to save on calories and fat if you like it or *low-fat cottage cheese)
  • 1 cup of blueberries frozen* or fresh (can substitute raspberries, strawberries or blackberries)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped unsalted walnuts (can sub for almonds, pumpkin seeds or any other nut variety)

Directions: Just mix and enjoy! 

*Zapping frozen berries in the microwave creates a "syrupy" liquid that acts as a natural sweetener

*Cottage cheese is a significant source of sodium and can increase the sodium content in this recipe to about 500 mg. 

Nutrition info: ~250 calories, 8 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 50 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 21 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 18 g protein 

Creamy Avocado Egg Salad Wrap

Avocado contains heart healthy satisfying fat and fiber - it is a great substitution for mayonnaise and taste delicious with eggs. 

  • *2 hard boiled eggs 
  • 1 celery stalk (chopped)
  • 1 scallion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/3 avocado
  • 1 whole grain low-carb wrap

Directions: 

  1. Hard boil eggs (can be done the night before). Boil for 10 minutes on high and let sit. Rinse in cold water. 
  2. Chop ingredients and set aside. 
  3. Peel eggs and add avocado, and vegetables. 
  4. Layer wrap with spinach and top with egg mixture. 

Nutrition information: ~390 calories, 20 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 300 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 2 g sugar, 10 g fiber, 19 g protein 

*If you have a history of high cholesterol and want to reduce the saturated fat you can use egg whites. Keep egg yolks to no more than 4 per week. 

Pumpkin Quinoa Blueberry Bowl

Quinoa is a low glycemic index, high fiber, high protein grain. It is a great substitution for oatmeal and is naturally gluten free. I add 100% pure pumpkin for added vitamin A, fiber and flavor. Pumpkin is a nutrition powerhouse

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cooked *quinoa (read package instructions for cooking directions)  
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh) 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or silvered almonds 

*You can substitute quinoa for another whole grain of choice such as oatmeal

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions using water. Once quinoa is fluffy add almond milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and berries and stir in ground flaxseed. Top with silvered almonds or chopped walnuts. 

Nutrition information: ~355 calories, 22 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 80 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 10 g protein

Grilled Peanut Butter and Strawberry Sandwich

Instead of grilled cheese make a grilled peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread. The peanut butter gets nice and gooey too which makes it delicious. Chop up a few strawberries for added fiber and sweetness. The combination of protein and fiber will help you to stay full and satisfied. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole grain bread sandwich thin (make sure it has at least 3 g of fiber)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all natural peanut butter 
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Instructions: 

  1. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray (I like to use organic coconut oil spray). If you'd prefer not to use cooking spray, grease pan lightly with organic butter or pure coconut oil and wipe clean with a paper towel (soaking up excess fat). Place peanut butter and strawberries between two slices of bread on grill on each side until lightly browned. 

Nutrition Info: ~ 290 calories, 12 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 380 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 8 g sugar, 8.5 g fiber, 10 g protein 

*If you don't have time to grill the sandwich simply eat at room temperature. 

Nutty Berry Smoothie

Berries are a low glycemic index fruit that are packed with nutrition. Add filling protein and healthy fat and you are sure to feel full and satisfied hours later. As a bonus, add some kale or spinach for added vitamins and nutrition. 

  • 1 scoop whey protein powder, soy protein, or hemp protein (not all protein powders are created equal. Aim to choose one with little sugar and choose one that is the purest in nature. I like Tera's Whey Organic Grassfed
  • 1/2 small container (3.5 ounces) of low-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 4 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk (you can use skimmed milk, coconut milk or soy milk as a replacement)
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries 
  • 4 oz water
  • 3 to 4 ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon all-natural or organic almond butter (you can substitute for sun butter, cashew, or peanut butter)

Add a probiotic to help promote digestive health.

Nutrition Info: ~340 calories, 8 g fat 1.5 g saturated fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 463 mg sodium, 819 mg potassium, 31.5 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 39 g protein

For more information on low carbohydrate breakfast ideas:

Sources:

View Article Sources
  • American Diabetes Association. Quick Breakfast Ideas
  • Position of the American Dietetic Association. Weight Management. file:///C:/Users/Domenic/Downloads/WeightManagement%20(2).pdf
  • Lausch, Marnie. On the Cutting Edge Diabetes Care and Education. Carbohydrate, Insulin Pumps, and Continuous Glucose Monitoring Technology and Special Features to Manage Glycemia. 2014;V35;2,pp 7-11. 
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government
    Printing Office, December 2010. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/dietary_guidelines_for_americans/PolicyDoc.pdf