Affordable and Healthy Diabetic Breakfast Ideas

There is a never-ending quest for an interesting selection of diabetic breakfast ideas that are convenient, affordable, and naturally delicious.  This is a big deal, and you are not alone!  Did you know that over 350 million people worldwide are on the same mission?

In this article there are three areas of focus:

  1. understanding why breakfast is so challenging
  2. learning how to combine the healthiest proteins, carbohydrates and fats
  3. and sharing a varied list of 10 diabetic breakfast menu suggestions for you to try

For diabetics, breakfast is absolutely the trickiest meal of the day!

  • Your blood glucose level is at it’s peak when you wake up
  • You are most likely in a rush to get to work or school
  • The easiest and fastest breakfasts are often the worst for you
  • Breakfast choices can get boring
  • Pleasing all family members can be tough

Now…if you were paying close attention, only one of the five difficulties listed above applies strictly to diabetics.  Everyone seems to have a tough time with breakfast, so let’s see if we can put our heads together and start learning how to solve “The Breakfast Crisis.”

The truth is that there is not really a need for something called a “diabetic diet.” The foods that are healthy for people with diabetes are also the best choices for the rest of your family.

The difference between a diabetic breakfast menu and your family’s “normal” menu is this:  If you have diabetes, you need to monitor what you eat a little more closely. This includes the total amount of calories you consume and the amounts and types of carbohydrates, fats, and protein you eat. A diabetes educator or dietitian can help you learn how to do this and recommend any additional nutritional supplements.

This short, but instructive video gives you some really simple and healthy diabetic breakfast ideas:

Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats

With apologies to the readers who are already nutritionally savvy, I think it is important to review exactly what carbohydrates, protein, and fats actually do for our bodies, and how much of each we should be eating of each throughout the day. That way, when dreaming up diabetic breakfast ideas, they will be balanced and healthy.  The focus should be on controlling blood glucose (and lipid) levels, not on weight loss. Losing weight will be a happy byproduct, if you need it.

Teaching people carbohydrate counting, encouraging physical activity, keeping food records, and monitoring blood glucose levels are the most important goals for planning a diabetic menu.  There are many myths that confuse diabetics about their dietary needs.  It is important for your health to know facts.  http://diabetes.webmd.com/10-diabetes-diet-myths?

Carbohydrates

Let’s start here since this is the most critical area to monitor if you are diabetic.  Carbohydrates provide our bodies energy and are grouped as either simple or complex.  The advice to restrict all carbohydrates for diabetics is outdated.

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates such as sugar, candy, soda, syrups, and jams.  They are “empty calories” that spike your blood sugar quickly, then crash.  They have very low nutritional value, fiber, and are high in calories.  If you are diabetic, these foods are harmful.
  • Eat up to 100 grams of complex carbohydrates per day.  Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and contain more fiber.  Your blood sugar and energy stay more consistent when you eat breads, pastas, and rices that are considered “whole grain.”  Also in this category are vegetables, fruits and beans.
  • Fiber.  All of our fiber comes from plants.  Fiber is important for several things.  It slows the absorption of nutrients which keeps blood sugars leveled.  We feel full longer, so we eat less.  Some fiber like that found in vegetables, beans and some fruits can also lower cholesterol.  Eat 5 servings of vegetables and fruit per day to add 10 grams of fiber, and just 1/2 cup of cooked beans adds 4-8 grams.  Stay away from white food:  rice, bread, potatoes, sugar.  Always go whole grain (not multigrain).

Adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from complex carbohydrates.

Women need 25 grams of fiber per day, men 38. 

  Dietary percentages throughout this article are from livestrong.com  Click here for more details.

Protein

While carbohydrates come from plants, almost all protein comes from animals.  Carbohydrates supply us with energy, but protein builds our muscles and bones.  Here are several examples of healthy protein foods according to WebMD:

  • Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt:  These also contain valuable calcium, and many are fortified with vitamin D. Choose skim or low fat dairy to keep bones and teeth strong and prevent osteoporosis.
  • Eggs:  Eggs are one of the least expensive forms of protein. The American Heart Association says normal healthy adults can safely enjoy an egg a day.
  • Beans:  One-half cup of beans contains as much protein as an ounce of broiled steak.  Plus, these nutritious nuggets are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full for hours.
  • Soy:  50 grams of soy protein daily can help lower cholesterol about 3%. Eating soy protein instead of sources of protein higher in fat — along with a healthy diet — can be heart healthy.
  • Lean Beef:  Lean beef has only one more gram of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast.  Lean beef is also an excellent source of zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.
  • Pork Tenderloin:  This great and versatile white meat is 31% leaner than 20 years ago.
  • Protein on the Go:  Grab a meal replacement drink, cereal bar, or energy bar. Check the label to be sure the product contains at least six grams of protein and is low in sugar and fat.

Adults should get 10% to 35% of their calories from protein.

Fat

Yes, the word we all work so hard to avoid is…good for us!?  Understanding the difference between healthy fats and harmful ones is very important.

  • Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, and Omega-3 Fatty AcidsThese are the good fats that protect your heart and lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol.  Omega-3 fatty acids help keep your arteries clear.  Nuts, avocado, plant-based oils, seeds, fish and tofu are healthy sources.  The trick is to limit the amounts because they are high calorie.
  • Trans and Saturated Fat: These fats clog arteries.  One complication of diabetes is heart disease, so steer clear of these.  They are found in egg yolks, butter, shortening, high fat meats, high fat dairy, and hydrogenated oils–read the labels on snack foods!

Adults should get 20% to 35% of their calories from fat.  Only 7% of those fats should be trans or saturated.

Diabetic Breakfast Foods

With the nutrition lesson out of the way, let’s get to specifics!  Think (p)rotein, (cc)complex carbohydrates and a touch of (f)at.  Savory, not too sweet.  Nutritional and satisfying.  Lean and balanced.

  1. Steel cut oatmeal (cc).  Stir in some natural peanut butter(p,f) or add 1/2 cup of berries or 1/2 banana (cc).
  2. Bran muffin or whole wheat English muffin split (cc).  Low-fat cream cheese or almond butter.
  3. Two scrambled eggs (p).  Add some veggies like spinach, tomato, broccoli (cc), low-fat cheese (p,f).  This is a good time to sneak in some black beans or garbanzos for fiber (cc).
  4. Cereals must be whole grain and unsweetened (cc).  Add some berries or other high fiber fruit (cc).  Low fat milk or try soy or almond milk (p).
  5. Low-fat Greek yogurt (p), stir in granola (cc), whole wheat toast with 100% fruit or sugar-free spread.
  6. Smoothie:  1 cup low or non-fat plain yogurt (p), 1 cup high fiber fruit (cc), 1 t. wheat germ, 1 t. nuts (f), ice.  Blend.  Enjoy.
  7. Whole Grain French Toast (cc, p) topped with banana slices, berries  (cc) or turkey bacon (p), hard boiled egg (p).
  8. 1% Cottage cheese (p) and pineapple or blueberries (cc).
  9. Open face egg, turkey bacon and tomato sandwich on a 1/2 toasted whole wheat bagel.
  10. Half of a cantaloupe,  grapefruit, or some watermelon (cc), a scoop of 1% cottage cheese (p), and some whole grain crackers (cc).

Research shows that including a source of protein like an egg or Greek yogurt at breakfast along with a high fiber grain like whole wheat toast can help you feel full longer and eat less throughout the day.  Diabetic breakfast foods do not need to feel restrictive or boring.  Plan ahead.  Keep track.  Feel great!

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