Breakfast can be a challenging meal for people with diabetes. Here are some ideas to help reduce the blood sugar spike.
So, they say “breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But they don’t say what’s important to think about when deciding what’s for breakfast. Do you ever feel like breakfast has you chasing high blood sugar for the rest of the day? I’ve sure been there. It took me a long time to really narrow down breakfast options for better blood sugar management. Sometimes my breakfast is simply black coffee and a handful of tree nuts. But that doesn’t always satiate and satisfy, and it certainly doesn’t always fuel me up properly for a busy morning. I'm still learning.
If you can relate, I’ve got some diabetes-friendly breakfast ideas to share with you.
Most people with diabetes know that eggs are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. This makes them a naturally good choice for us. Depending on how eggs are prepared, they can stay nutritious. One large egg fried will give you 7 grams (g) of fat, 184 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol, 95mg sodium, 70mg potassium, 0.4g total carbohydrate, and 6g protein. You’ll also get the following daily value percentage (DV) of some important essential nutrients: 7% Vitamin A, 10% vitamin D, 5% vitamin B-6, 2% calcium, 4% iron, 1% magnesium, 6% cobalamin.
Note: eggs increase HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol. So there’s not much risk in that regard.
So, with that in mind, here are some ways to prepare eggs for a healthy breakfast.
Fried - use lower-fat cooking oils instead of butter to keep things lower in saturated fat.
Scrambled - try this recipe from Naughty Carbs blogger Nikki Sheriff.
Boiled - whether soft boiled or hard-boiled, throw a little salt on for a simple, savory breakfast.
Eggs Benedict - have you ever tried this? It’s delicious and a little bit fancy. Here’s another winner from Naughty Carbs. Nikki has adjusted the recipe for a reduced-carb version of Eggs Benedict.
Omelet - you can choose what goes in and stack up the nutrition in your own custom way. Here’s a great Vegetable Omelet recipe to try from a diabetes educator.
There are some good meats to try.
Bacon is low-carb, but the saturated fat can add up quickly. One 8 gram strip, pan-fried: 1.1g (5% DV) of saturated fat (3.5g total fat). That same slice will give you 178mg sodium, but 3g protein. If you don't want the extra fat and sodium, try turkey bacon. One 8 gram strip: 0.5g saturated fat (1.6g total fat), way less sodium (78mg), but a little less protein at 1.1g. Two strips of turkey bacon will still give you less than one strip of regular bacon for all these nutritional points.
Ham - If you choose ham you will get a larger serving than a slice of bacon. A 1 oz slice of ham gives you 3.7g of fat (1.3g saturated fat), 393mg sodium, 6g protein, and absolutely no carbohydrates.
Sausage - this option comes in many forms, serving sizes and the ingredients are not consistent across the board. So, if you choose sausage, be sure to check out nutrition labels so you understand what is in it. Always be mindful when you are eating!
Lox - ever tried this? It is less-popular in most of the USA, but this thin-sliced smoked salmon is popular in other regions. It goes well on toast or a bagel with a spread of cream cheese. If you go for a 2 oz serving of this lean meat, there is very little fat (0.5g saturated fat) and much more sodium, since it is brine-cured, but very high in protein (10.5g) and again has no carbohydrates. But, keep in mind the added carbohydrates in the spread and bread you choose.
Yes, I’m serious. Because traditional high-carb pancakes aren’t the only options. You can make some absolutely delicious pancakes with just a few ingredients. While some still need a little flour, you can drastically reduce that and cut out table sugar. Try one of these based on the number of carbohydrates you want for breakfast.
Greek Yogurt Pancakes have a small amount of flour but are definitely lower in carbohydrates than standard pancakes. You’ll love them!
Keto Pancakes will have you eating fewer carbs and more protein. Try this recipe from Delish!
Banana Pancakes can be made with just 2 main ingredients. They venture into the higher-carb territory due to the main ingredient, but the bananas make it very nutritious and delicious!
Fruits are usually high in carbohydrates. But there are some "best" options when it comes to managing blood sugar. Try adding some berries to your plate. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are all fairly low in carbs, so you can manage the blood sugar impact with portion control. They are a wonderful way to put something sweet on the plate while enjoying the health benefits of the fiber, magnesium, iron, vitamin B-6 and lots of vitamin C.
If you’re trying to drastically reduce total carbohydrates for breakfast, this is a difficult one. But, if you are just trying to reduce a bit, there are some good ideas to share.
Find breads at the grocery store that are higher in fiber. The problem with most bread is that they have no fiber. Dietary fiber does not break down the way other carbohydrates do. So, if you find a good whole grain bread that is enriched with fiber, the total net carbs come down and you will see less of a blood sugar spike. There are some lower-carb bagels and English muffins in this category as well. Do some exploring on the bread aisle and see what you can find.
Make low-carb bread at home. This is easy when you find the right recipe. Here’s a low-carb bread from A Clean Bake that uses almond flour.
Try some bread alternatives. I’ve listed a few here in Low-carb Substitutes for Common Foods.
Be Less Traditional
We have lots of “traditional” breakfast ideas. Try to break away. For example, there are no official rules that say you can’t have vegetables for breakfast. Try a good hearty salad! Or, think about what you would normally eat as a low-carb lunch. Bump it up to a morning meal and see how it works for you. The possibilities are endless when you think of breakfast this way. Go your own way, with health and diabetes goals in mind, and create your own food adventure.