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They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That might be especially true if you have diabetes: Research has shown that for folks with type 2, skipping the morning meal is linked to more blood sugar spikes throughout the day.
In other words, it’s a good idea to fuel up at the start of your day. But what are the best breakfast foods for your blood sugar? And what are some non-boring ways to enjoy them?
Here’s a look at the best foods to stock up on for diabetes-friendly breakfasts, plus easy recipes that are both healthy and super tasty.
A great diabetes-friendly breakfast starts with healthy ingredients that won’t spike your blood sugar. Some ideas for what to keep on hand for quick, satisfying a.m. bites:
- Eggs. They’re low in carbohydrates and packed with protein to help stave off blood sugar spikes. That makes them a great choice for breakfast, says the American Diabetes Association.
- Whole grains. Oatmeal, whole wheat toast, whole wheat English muffins, and whole grain tortillas are all good sources of fiber, which can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. (Not sure if a whole grain product really fits the bill? This handy guide can help.)
- Greek yogurt. It’s got more protein and fewer carbs than traditional yogurt, and the probiotics may help lower your blood sugar levels. Opt for plain, low fat varieties with 15 grams of carbs or less per serving.
- Cottage cheese. Like plain yogurt, it’s high in protein and low in carbs. Plain, low fat varieties are best.
- Fruit. Whole fruit has naturally occurring sugar, yes. But because it comes packaged with fiber, it’s a low glycemic pick overall. Berries, melons, peaches, grapes, apples, orange, and mango are all good options.
- Veggies. Try adding kale or spinach, mushrooms, summer squash, or peppers to an omelet, breakfast burrito, or savory breakfast bowl. Or top a baked sweet potato with blueberries plus nut butter or Greek yogurt.
- Avocado. It’s a satisfying source of heart healthy fat and fiber that’s yummy on toast or tucked into tacos or burritos.
- Nuts and seeds. Whether whole or as nut or seed butters, they’re rich in protein and healthy fats that can lower your meal’s glycemic index.
- Canned beans. They’re a quick, tasty source of protein and fiber when you’re in the mood for something savory — like hummus toast or scrambled eggs with black beans.
Now that you know the basics of a solid diabetes-friendly morning meal, it’s time to get creative. Here are 10 mouthwatering options that’ll keep your blood sugar stable — and your belly satisfied — straight through ’til lunch.
1. Overnight steel-cut oatmeal bowls
Customize these easy no-cook bowls with whatever fruit, nuts, and seeds you have on hand. Instead of sugar or honey, they get a hint of sweetness from ground cinnamon, which may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar.
2. Low carb breakfast berry parfait
These Greek yogurt parfaits get their sweet flavor from a homemade no-sugar-added blueberry sauce. A nutty, grain-free granola adds a satisfying crunch without upping the carb count.
Short on time? Make a big batch in individual mason jars on the weekend and grab one before you head out the door.
3. Avocado toast with fried eggs
Topping your avocado toast with a fried egg or two takes it from a simple snack to a satisfying, protein-packed breakfast. Fresh-squeezed lime juice and red pepper flakes pack a big flavor punch for practically zero extra effort.
4. Mexican stuffed sweet potatoes with eggs
Here’s a yummy weekend brunch idea that doesn’t involve carb-laden waffles or pancakes: garlicky sweet potatoes filled with baked eggs, drizzled with creamy avocado-lime sauce, and topped with loads of chopped fresh tomato.
5. Berry avocado smoothie
Most store-bought smoothies are loaded with sugar and carbs. Not so with this blended drink, which is made with avocado, low sugar fruits like strawberries and blueberries, Greek yogurt, and low fat milk.
6. Everything bagel hummus breakfast toast
Huge, floury bagels do not a diabetes-friendly breakfast make. But you can get the same yummy flavors by slathering whole grain toast with creamy, protein-rich hummus and a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning.
Top with a soft-boiled egg for extra protein and staying power.
7. Easy black bean breakfast tacos
Instead of the usual eggs and toast, try making a quick scramble with black beans and folding it into corn tortillas. (Corn is a whole grain, FYI!) Diced avocado, jarred salsa, and a shower of chopped fresh cilantro up the flavor factor even more.
8. Oatmeal cottage cheese pancakes
Swap the typical white flour pancakes for these flapjacks made with high protein cottage cheese and fiber-packed oatmeal.
A big batch comes together in 20 minutes, but you can also make them ahead, freeze them, and reheat them in the toaster for near-instant eats.
9. Strawberry coconut breakfast bake
This lower carb take on baked oatmeal cleverly uses unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped walnuts, and chia seeds instead of the usual rolled oats. Diced strawberries and mashed banana add just the right amount of low-GI sweetness.
10. Sheet pan breakfast hash
Cooking for a crowd? Pile veggies and nitrate-free bacon on a sheet pan, crack a few eggs on top, and add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning. Then bake and serve directly out of the pan. (Folks who want more carbs can just add toast!)
Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we have some bonus tips for ya:
- Are you a cereal lover? You don’t have to swear off cereal with a diabetes diagnosis. Check out this guide to choosing cereals that are healthy, filling, and not loaded with sugar.
- Hitting the grocery store? Print out this type 1 and type 2 diabetes-approved shopping list.
It might go without saying, but hey, we’re gonna bring it up anyway: Tracking your carbs is key for keeping your blood sugar in check — and feeling your best all day long.
People with diabetes should get about 45 percent of their calories from carbohydrates.
That means 30 to 45 grams of carbs per meal for women and 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal for men. (Everyone’s a little different, though, so work with your doctor to pinpoint the right number for you.)
Once you know how many carbs you should be eating in the morning, you can use an app to input your meal and get a sense of whether you’re on track for the day.
We’re fans of MyFitnessPal, but there are plenty of other great options out there too.