6 easy breakfast ideas recommended by dietitians for people with diabetes

Oatmeal healthy breakfast
Top your oatmeal with healthy fats and carbs like peanut butter, chia seeds, and fruit. vaaseenaa/Getty Images
  • Healthy breakfast ideas for those with diabetes include avocado toast, oatmeal, and an egg sandwich.
  • If you have diabetes, make sure breakfast has a combination of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Breakfast is especially important for diabetes as it can help manage blood sugar levels all day.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Breakfast is perhaps the most important meal of the day for people with diabetes because it can help stabilize blood sugar levels which are typically at their highest right after waking up. It can also prevent major blood sugar fluctuations for the rest of the day.

But there’s a difference between incorporating breakfast into your diet and creating a balanced breakfast that works best for you, says Kara Wood, RD, a dietitian at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Some breakfast ingredients and options are healthier than others.

Here are six easy breakfast ideas for people with diabetes.

1. A breakfast sandwich

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A breakfast sandwich with a whole-wheat bagel and avocado would also make a great choice. Claudia Totir/Getty Images

This sandwich will give you necessary carbohydrates while protein from the egg keeps you full without spiking blood sugar levels. A study in 2018 found people who ate an egg every day had reduced fasting blood sugar levels.

How to make it: Key ingredients include one whole-wheat English muffin, an egg, one slice of cheese, and one ounce of meat of your preference, says Wood. Along with this, you can also include ¾ cup of blueberries for added fiber or avocado slices for heart-healthy fats.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal raspberries
Top your oatmeal with fresh fruit and some nuts. Arx0nt/Getty Images

Oatmeal contains carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. A large 2015 study found oats are beneficial to patients with type 2 diabetes due to their effect in decreasing blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

How to make it: With one cup of cooked oatmeal, add eight ounces unsweetened almond milk, one tablespoon of chia seeds, three tablespoons of walnuts, two tablespoons peanut butter powder, and a cup of strawberries on top.

3. Avocado Toast

Eggs avocado toast
Top your avocado toast with egg for an added boost of protein. Westend61/Getty Images

The healthy fat from avocado slows digestion and keeps carbohydrates – which are normally processed quickly by the body – from absorbing into the bloodstream rapidly, says Cassandra Vanderwall, RD, a Clinical Nutritionist at UW Hospitals and Clinics.

How to make it: Vanderwall suggests a piece of whole-wheat toast, a sliced half avocado, and an egg for breakfast.

4. Cereal

Cereal banana healthy breakfast
Choose a high-fiber cereal low in added sugars. Westend61/Getty Images

If you have diabetes, you can still eat cereal for breakfast, but opt for a high fiber, whole grain cereal rather than a sugary, sweetened one, says Wood. Wholegrain cereals can aid in managing blood sugar levels by releasing glucose at a much slower rate thanks to their fiber content.

How to make it: Include additional food groups to the meal like a hard-boiled egg or peanut butter for a boost of protein.

5. Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt bowl
Greek yogurt is a blank canvas for your favorite toppings like banana, granola and peanut butter. Rachel Hosie

Plain yogurt has few carbohydrates, says Wood, and it’s high in protein, so it won’t cause blood sugar levels to spike like other carbohydrates may. Some yogurts also contain probiotics, which lower fasting blood sugar and insulin level.

How to make it: For this breakfast, use eight ounces of unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt with a half cup pecans, one tablespoon of flaxseeds, one tablespoon of almond butter, and a cup of mixed berries, says Wood.

6. Trailmix

Trail mix healthy nuts raisins seeds
Make a healthy trail mix with nuts, seeds, and some dried fruit. EricFerguson/Getty Images

If you are in a rush in the morning and looking for a more grab-and-go option, Vanderwall says trail mix can be a good choice. This can include nuts for protein, small amounts of dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins, and you can throw some whole-grain cereal in the mix as well.

For dried fruit, it is important to keep the portion sizes low since they are high in sugar which spikes blood sugar. Generally, a good portion size is around 2 tablespoons.

How to make it: This recipe includes 1 cup multi-grain cheerios, ¾ cup almonds, and a third cup of dried cherries. You can also add mini-chocolate chips if you’d like.

Foods to avoid with diabetes

For people with diabetes, no food is completely off-limits, says Vanderwall. The real question is how much and how often. Some foods can increase your chances of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and uncontrolled sugar, she says.

Some examples of foods you may want to avoid include:

“[People with diabetes] don’t have to avoid fruit,” says Wood. “It’s all about balance. If you really want an orange or a banana, which might spike your blood sugar, eat some protein and fat along with it to keep your levels stable.”

Insider takeaway

Breakfast is a very important part of the day for someone with diabetes. Eating in the morning can keep your blood sugar levels under control and stable throughout the day.

Easy breakfast options, such as oatmeal, avocado toast, or a yogurt parfait, will give you the balanced meal you need with variations of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. While there may be some foods to avoid if you have diabetes, what’s more important is to keep your breakfast balanced and nutritious so you can avoid any unnecessary blood sugar fluctuations.

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