I once went to see a friend who has diabetes. Her table was laid out with a wonderful breakfast for the both of us. However, it didn’t look too much like a breakfast a diabetic should be eating. There were carbs, carbs, and more carbs. To me it was a dream, but my thought for her was, “oh geeze, her blood sugar!”
It seems innocent enough that we were having; croissants, jam, fruit, and array of fresh juices. For most people, this is a very healthy start. For diabetics, it is missing one key item that will help stall the burn of all those carbs – protein!”
Here you will see biggest diabetes breakfast mistakes you're probably making and you didn't know you were doing it. Don't make these breakfast mistakes to keep your blood sugar stable. At the end I have also included list of some commonly asked questions about diabetes breakfast.
- 1. Skipping Protein
- 2. Smoothies on the Run
- 3. Not Eating Breakfast
- 4. Fat Free is Best?
- 5. Early Morning Indulgence
- 6. Not Eating Enough Fiber
- 7. Filling Up On Coffee
- 8. Thinking That Juicing Is “Healthy” For Diabetics
- 9. Now Back to Brunch
- 10. Grab and Go Breakfast
- Common Questions About Diabetes Breakfast Mistakes
1. Skipping Protein
When you eat carbohydrates alone, they are digested quickly causing spikes in your blood sugar levels. When paired with a protein, they bind together and take longer to digest and burn up.
- If you have a bowl of cereal and toast, eat an egg with it.
- Fruit with Yogurt.
- Pancakes with Sausage.
- In a hurry? Just add Peanut Butter to your toast!
2. Smoothies on the Run
Smoothies make you feel great! No doubt a good smoothie gives you a rush to get you going, but turns out its mostly a sugar rush. Make sure to check our 8 best smoothies for people with diabetes.
- Add a scoop of protein powder to slow the burn.
- Drink a smoothie and nibble a hardboiled egg.
- Skip the smoothie and have a bowl of oatmeal with some bacon!
3. Not Eating Breakfast
You may have been fine without breakfast before diabetes, but after you are diagnosed you may not be anymore. People who skip breakfast actually have higher blood sugars during the day.
- Grab a granola bar that is high in protein and a glass of milk.
- Cheese and crackers.
- Yogurt and granola.
- Hard boiled eggs will travel most anywhere.
- Even a ham and cheese sandwich will do! Very European!
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4. Fat Free is Best?
Not always. Fat-free is often higher in calories. Second, fat helps slow the burn of carbs just like protein. If you choose fat-free, eat it in moderation and include some healthy fats in your diet each week.
- Stick to low-fat items such as; low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat ice cream.
- Have a few strips of bacon once or twice a week.
- Use regular butter on your toast instead of margarine.
5. Early Morning Indulgence
It’s Easter and you’ve been invited to a breakfast buffet. You walk into the dining room and it’s filled with goodies. There is a fruit station, make your own waffles, a carving station, and pastries galore. You’re attracted by the enticing ice sculptures and cute décor. You eat until you can barely walk. Not good for your blood sugar levels.
- Try to avoid the pastry station.
- Make healthy choices of foods you normally eat for breakfast. (Oatmeal, eggs, bacon).
- Allow yourself one treat for dessert.
- Make sure you include your protein.
6. Not Eating Enough Fiber
When you lower your carb intake, you inadvertently may lose some of the fiber in your diet. Fiber has many benefits for diabetics like; making you feel full faster, zero impact on blood sugar, and can lower your cholesterol. Fiber is a good thing!
- Apples are high in fiber for a sweet and filling treat.
- Start your day with a fiber rich bowl of oatmeal that will keep your sugar stable till lunch.
- Eat high fiber breads and cold cereals. Read best bread for people with diabetes for more information.
7. Filling Up On Coffee
When my friend and I get together for our breakfast sessions, we tend to drink more coffee than we should. It’s so tempting when you can barely keep your eyes open in the morning. Coffee isn’t bad, but more than one or two cups with sweetener and cream actually cancel out the health benefits of coffee and fill you up.
- Drink your coffee black.
- Limit to one or two cups with sweetener or cream.
- Drink your coffee after you eat breakfast.
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8. Thinking That Juicing Is “Healthy” For Diabetics
Here is the scary part about that thought in regards to diabetes – juiced fruit has about as many grams of carbohydrates as a full sugar soda! Have a glass every now and then, but treat it as just that – a treat!
- Try juicing just vegetables and make your own V8™.
- Go ahead and make a nice fruit juice blend, but mix ½ and ½ with mineral water.
9. Now Back to Brunch
We talked above about breakfast buffets and how to choose wisely. This section isn’t about the food however, but the time of day. Brunch is usually from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is important to get your breakfast in soon after waking to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Eat a small breakfast if you have plans for brunch.
- See if brunch can be scheduled earlier in the morning.
10. Grab and Go Breakfast
It can be really deceiving to see a breakfast bar made by a cereal company and think it will be a good breakfast to “grab and go.” Turns out though that these can have as much sugar and carbohydrates as a regular candy bar.
- Look for granola bars low in sugar and high in protein.
- Try making your own granola that is lower in sugar and carbs.
Common Questions About Diabetes Breakfast Mistakes
Q: “I’m on the go every single day and don’t have time to think about breakfast. What can I have that is quick and okay for my diabetes?”
A: Hands down the best breakfast for diabetics is oatmeal. This is because it is high in fiber and takes a long time to digest keeping you fuller longer. Grab some instant plain oatmeal packets and you can even keep them in your desk at work.
Q: “Is it okay to have bacon and eggs for breakfast?”
A: In moderation, yes. Bacon and eggs by themselves are high in fat and cholesterol. To help move this through your digestive system, make sure you include a food that is high in fiber like; oatmeal, high fiber toast, or fruit.
Q: “What is a normal fasting blood sugar in the morning and if I eat something high in sugar for breakfast, how high is too high?”
A: Normal fasting blood sugar for anyone is between 70 and 100 mg/dl. Prediabetics and diabetics usually have fasting blood sugars of 101 to 125 mm/dl. After a high carb or high sugar meal your blood sugar should not rise above 180 to 200 mm/dl.
Q: “Are there any good choices for diabetics at McDonalds™?”
A: Yes, there are. While McDonalds shouldn’t be a habit, if you find yourself in the drive through there are some good choices on the menu. These include:
- Egg White McMuffin™
- Sausage Burrito™
- Fruit and Maple Oatmeal™
So, now every time I get together for breakfast with my friend we have a blast! I sat her down and told her the importance of balancing protein, fiber, and carbs. Breakfast can be fun. It can also be quick and healthy to get you through your day.
I hope you learned what makes a breakfast bad for a diabetic.
TheDiabetesCouncil Article | Reviewed by Dr. Jerry Ramos MD on October 26, 2022