For many people, breakfast is the most neglected meal of the day. But if you have type 2 diabetes, breakfast is a must, and it can have real benefits. “The body really needs the nutrients that breakfast provides to literally ‘break the fast’ that results during sleeping hours,” says Kelly Kennedy, MS, RD, an Everyday Health dietitian. “Having a source of healthy carbohydrates along with protein and fiber is the perfect way to start the morning.”
Eating foods at breakfast that have a low glycemic index may help prevent a spike in blood sugar all morning long — and even after lunch. Eating peanut butter or almond butter at breakfast, for example, will keep you feeling full, thanks to the combination of protein and fat, according to the American Diabetes Association. And a good breakfast helps kick-start your morning metabolism and keeps your energy up throughout the day.
Pressed for time? You don’t have to create an elaborate spread. Here are seven diabetes-friendly breakfast ideas to help you stay healthy and get on with your day.
1. Breakfast Shake
For a meal in a minute, blend one cup of fat-free milk or plain nonfat yogurt with one-half cup of fruit, such as strawberries, bananas, or blueberries. Add one teaspoon of wheat germ, a teaspoon of nuts, and ice and blend for a tasty, filling, and healthy breakfast. Time saver: Measure everything out the night before.
2. Muffin Parfait
Halve a whole grain or other high-fiber muffin (aim for one with 30 grams of carbohydrates and at least 3 grams of fiber), cover with berries, and top with a dollop of low- or nonfat yogurt for a fast and easy breakfast.
3. Whole-Grain Cereal
Hot or cold, the right cereal makes a great breakfast. Enjoy a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal with skim milk, or heat up plain oatmeal. “When it comes to whole grain cereal, you can’t beat a bowl of steel-cut oats,” says Kennedy. “They’re packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals and make a great base for a healthy and diabetes-friendly breakfast.” Just remember that a little goes along way: A half cup equals one serving and about 15 grams of carbs. And watch what you add to it. Limit the butter and sugar — instead, top with fresh fruit, skim milk, or a sugar substitute to sweeten your meal.
4. Scrambled Eggs and Toast
The old standby breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast can be a healthy way to start the day if you cook them right. Scramble the egg in a nonstick pan with cooking spray. Enjoy this with a slice of whole-wheat toast topped with a light butter substitute, low-fat cream cheese, or sugar-free jam.
5. Breakfast Burrito
This filling and easy meal can be eaten on the go when wrapped in foil. Using a nonstick skillet and cooking spray, scramble an egg with onions and green peppers or spinach. Place in a warmed whole-wheat tortilla, sprinkle with nonfat cheddar cheese, add some salsa, and you have a healthy breakfast to keep you going until lunch.
6. Bagel Thins With Nut Butter
Bagels are notoriously large, so consider enjoying bagel thins instead — otherwise you may overload on carbohydrates. Top the bagel thins or flats with peanut or almond butter for a dose of healthy fat and protein that’s a satisfying, lower-carb energy boost.
7. Almonds and Fruit
For a breakfast you can eat on the run, grab a hearty handful of whole, raw almonds and a small serving of low glycemic-index fruit, such as berries, a peach, an apple, or an orange. The fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats in the nuts will help you feel full, and the fruit adds additional fiber and a touch of sweetness to your morning without causing a blood-sugar spike.