We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if you are diabetic, it could literally save your life.
A research team at American Friends of Tel Aviv University has just published another study indicating that changing the way diabetics look at breakfast may be the key to managing blood glucose spikes and preventing complications from Type 2 diabetes. TAU’s professor Daniela Jakubowicz and her team recommend packing breakfast with high energy (high calorie) foods and scaling back dinner with fewer calories for best diabetes management. She notes:
“We found that by eating more calories at breakfast, when the glucose response to food is lowest, and consuming fewer calories at dinner, glucose peaks after meals and glucose levels throughout the day were significantly reduced.”
Extreme spikes or dips in blood sugar is what begins to cause damage to the nerves in the body, damage that often causes complications such as peripheral neuropathy that could lead to the loss of lower limbs. A high energy, protein-packed breakfast can combat these extreme changes.
In addition, the TAU study found that this type of eating helped to manage obesity (a major risk factor for diabetes), cardiovascular complications due to Type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.
For excellent and sustainable management of blood sugar all day long, here are the nine best breakfast foods and tips for diabetics.
Eggs have had a confusing nutritional lifespan. First, they fell out of favor as being too high in cholesterol, then came roaring back during the era of the South Beach diet. The plain and simple truth is that free-range, organic eggs provide omega-3 fatty acids and healthy protein to keep diabetics full and satisfied all morning. For those who are pre-diabetic, eggs can help there, too.
A study out of the University of Eastern Finland found that men who consumed four eggs per week had a 37% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than men who only ate one egg per week. This result controlled for other diabetes risk factors such as body mass index (BMI), lifestyle (i.e., physical activity level, smoking, and drinking), and other dietary considerations (e.g., whether or not they ate vegetables).
2. Full-fat dairy products
Many diet websites insist that low-fat dairy products are the way to go, but new research from Lund University has found that eating full-fat dairy products (e.g., yogurt and cheese) can reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 20%. Make this choice healthy for your BMI by consuming only plain Greek yogurt for extra protein and watching portion size. You can stir some fruit in for a bit of sweetness, or you can add yogurt to oatmeal for extra creaminess.
3. Whole grains
Although whole grains contain carbohydrates, they are complex and don’t cause a spike in blood sugar as your body digests. Plain oatmeal, whole-wheat bagels, and whole grain tortillas (good for breakfast burritos) will help fill you up and keep blood sugar steady throughout the morning.
4. Fruits and vegetables
In moderation, whole fruit is an excellent way to start the day, providing fiber and essential vitamins. You can even incorporate vegetables into your morning breakfast rotation with green smoothies (kale, apple, carrot, and lemon) or an omelet with chopped spinach.
To keep these at their healthy best, choose unsalted nuts and nut butters. Sprinkle chopped nuts on oatmeal, or spread nut butter (almond or peanut) on whole-grain toast.
6. Quick options
While this is not a category of food, perhaps the best way to ensure diabetics consume a healthy, high-energy breakfast is to plan ahead and make it quick and easy. Smoothies with full-fat yogurt and fruit are easy to make while the coffee is brewing and can be consumed on the go. Make a big batch of crustless mini quiches to freeze. Pop a couple in the microwave for a delicious, quick breakfast with built-in portion control.
7. Think portable
Think you don’t have time for a hot breakfast but can’t stomach the idea of cold food in the morning? Breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese, plenty of veggies, and salsa wrapped in a whole-grain tortilla and then in aluminum foil makes for a highly portable, nutritious and satisfying hot breakfast.
8. Plan ahead
There are plenty of ways to have multiple breakfast options for busy mornings. Make a batch of mini quiches to freeze, or mix it up with a batch of bran muffins. You can even make smoothies on the weekends and freeze the extra in single-serve cups. Take the smoothie out of the freezer when you first wake up. By the time you are out the door it should be ready to drink, but you can always give it a couple seconds in the microwave to help it along. Overnight oatmeal is also a great idea for a hot breakfast that is ready to go when you are.
Make oatmeal in Mason jars for easy, on-the-go eating. Each jar needs 2/3 cup of oats, 2/3 cup of milk of your choice (coconut milk is delicious in these!), and toppings of your choice. Add chopped nuts for even more energy and fruit (fresh or frozen) for natural sweetness. Place all ingredients in a jar (except fruit, if using) and shake to combine. Place the jar in the ‘fridge overnight, then pop it in the microwave for a minute or two to warm before you eat. You can make several of these at once.
9. Go to bed
Nan Hee Kim, MD, PhD of Korea University College of Medicine found that night owls have a higher risk of developing diabetes than do those who routinely hit the hay at an early hour, saying:
“Regardless of lifestyle, people who stayed up late had a higher risk of developing health problems like diabetes or reduced muscle mass than those who were early risers. This could be caused by night owls’ tendency to have poorer sleep quality and to engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, late-night eating, and a sedentary lifestyle.”
What’s on your breakfast menu?