When it comes to breakfast, the first rule for a diabetes educator and nutritionist is to persuade patients of the importance of eating it. And this can be a difficult thing to do. Current habits often die hard and it takes some ingenuity to convince people that they are never too old to make changes. People who have never eaten breakfast in the morning often aren’t hungry; some are downright nauseated at the mention of food before 11 a.m.
But breakfast is important for all of us, including those who have diabetes. Eating breakfast allows your body adequate fuel to handle morning activities. If you have diabetes and take fast acting insulin or some of the oral agents that cause the pancreas to secret insulin, breakfast has an even more important role. It prevents the onset of hypoglycemia.
When you take rapid acting insulin without simultaneously consuming adequate carbohydrate you run the risk of low blood glucose levels because the insulin has nothing to work on.
So how can you become a breakfast eater? Take the plunge, be persistent. New habits may take time to take hold but you can convince your body that it needs and wants nutrition in the morning by initially forcing yourself to eat something. Continue this practice every day over a two to three month period and it will become almost automatic. Some people are more resistant to change than others but for most breakfast can become a standard part of life.
Now that you are convinced of the importance of breakfast, give it a try. You will want to eat foods that will keep you full, taste good and maintain your blood glucose on an even keel. And, of course, preparation needs to take less than 15 minutes from thought to clean up. It is a pretty tall order, but one that is achievable.
Most Americans, when they eat breakfast, eat foods heavy in carbohydrate with very limited protein, such choices as cold cereals, pancakes and waffles, muffins and breakfast pastries. Although often low in fat and saturated fat, breakfast cereals tend to be digested very quickly, which leads to spikes in glucose levels followed by deep valleys. Muffins and pastries with their ever-expanding portions, on the other hand, are overloaded with calories and saturated fat.
There are better choices. Consider the following five breakfasts or use these as a starting point to create your own versions.
- A scrambled egg cup with a whole wheat English muffin. Recipe: break one egg into a coffee mug. Add 2 tablespoons of 1% milk. Sprinkle with ¼ tsp of dill and a dash of pepper. Wisk wildly. While you toast the muffin, in the toaster, cook the egg in the microwave for 1.5 minutes. Voila!
- Low fat ricotta cheese with raspberries and sugar-cinnamon, made with real sugar, or with sugar substitutes
- Greek yogurt and sliced peaches (you can even use the canned version in its own juice!)
- Oatmeal with ¼ cup of walnuts and ½ cup of blueberries
- Whole wheat frozen waffles with low-fat Greek yogurt or almond butter