Breakfasts that keep you full for longer will work away in the background to help stablize your blood glucose levels for the day? Eating a breakfast that gives you good slowly released energy is important for everyone, especially diabetics or those trying to avoid T2.
For T1 and T2: a breakfast which gives slow release energy is a great way of setting yourself up for good blood glucose levels for the day. If your levels aren’t in range when you get up this is the time to correct it and prevent it sabotaging your levels for the rest of the day. By correcting it in the morning and having a good breakfast that you carb count correctly and give appropriate medication, you will be giving yourself the best possible start to the day.
If you don’t give yourself a few minutes to check what correction is necessary and give the correct dose of insulin for your breakfast you will find it impossible to catch up. If you get out of range results for the rest of the day you won’t know whether it’s due to the fasting glucose levels, the breakfast you ate or something else (other food/exercise/forgot or gave incorrect insulin dose) during the day.
As with all meals the best breakfast consists of:
- Lean protein (eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, fish, lean meat, nuts)
- Non-starchy vegetables or salad (mushrooms, tomato, onion, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, cucumber, courgette)
- Good fats (avocado, egg yolk, salmon, trout, mackerel, a few nuts and seeds)
- Slow release carbohydrates (oats, buckwheat, butternut squash or a small amount of wholemeal/multigrain and of course Irish soda bread)
As you can see, some of the above examples fall into 2 brackets (salmon and nuts are both a good lean protein and also contain omega 3 fatty acid), so you get good food value from them. As nuts are high in calories portion size needs to be checked.
- Sugar loaded processed cereals, some of which claim to be healthy. They give a fast high hit of glucose which gives excessive demands for insulin for both diabetics and non-diabetics. This increases the likelihood of becoming insulin resistant and getting T2 diabetes. Most processed breakfast cereals contain a huge amount of additives as well as sugar. While some of these additives don’t contain carbs, so technically shouldn’t affect BG levels I have found that these type of additives interfere with the absorption rate of glucose in other foods so they do affect diabetes control.
- Fruit juices (both processed and fresh) aren’t good. They can be as unhealthy as fizzy drinks. Due to their rapid delivery of pure sugar, they put huge demands on insulin. I often use fresh fruit juice correct a low blood sugar occurrence, as the sugar is as easily accessed by the body as pure sugar.
- Sugary fizzy drinks. Lots of people drink these in the morning for their caffeine and sugar hit. They contain a huge amount of sugar and create excessive demand for insulin with no food value.
- Most white bread contains lots of additives and varying amounts of sugar. The length of ingredients is increasing all the time. The French government passed a law in 1993 which ruled that traditional baguettes can only contain wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. Hopefully, similar laws will be introduced in all countries. Eating traditional French bread (preferably in France!) or sourdough bread is better for blood glucose than a traditional sliced pan. Bread with ‘whole wheat flour’ or ‘whole grain’ as the first ingredient on the list is best. Bread containing ‘wheat flour’ or ‘enriched wheat flour’ have been stripped of most of their goodness.
- Jam and marmalade. Brands claiming to be sugar-free aren’t. They contain the concentrated sugar from the fruit.
The best way to ensure that you have a good breakfast that will set you up to have good BG levels is to have the ingredients available. Stock up on the following so that simple breakfasts can be grabbed before you rush out or can be cooked if you have the time:
Eggs, avocado, vegetables, porridge oats or quinoa flakes, nuts & seeds, soda/multigrain or rye bread.
I find the following are good breakfast choices which deliver slow steady energy and give predictable BG results.
Home-made frittata with smoked salmon and courgette and a handful of rocket on top
- Omelette/frittata with any of the following – onion, mushroom, peppers, tomato, spinach, courgette, salmon (cooked or smoked), left over vegetables, sweet potato, butternut squash. If you are eating eggs every day its best to stick to one a day. If you have an omelette a few times a week and no other eggs you could use 2 eggs. Add a handful of rocket on top just before service will give extra benefit and tastes nice.
- Boiled, poached or scrambled eggs. If you usually have baked beans with eggs, check the label for carbs as they vary a lot. Some brands have less carbs because they have more fibre and less sugar.
- Porridge with a sprinkling of nuts or one piece of fruit chopped into it. I also like a little cinnamon sprinkled over it. A few nuts will always slow down the rate in which the carbs (in this case the oats) is absorbed. As nuts contain quite a few calories it’s important to watch portion size.
- Quinoa flakes are similar to porridge, but cook quicker and give the same type texture. As above, a few nuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon is good. Add fruit, nuts, seeds and/or cinnamon to oat or quinoa porridge
- Juices made from a mix of spinach or kale, leek, parsley, cucumber, peppers, courgette, avocado, fresh ginger, beetroot, flax seed or other seeds. Its best to use a mix of a couple of different vegetables. Great to have before preparing a more substantial breakfast or if you are eating again soon. A vegetable juice is not a suitable replacement for breakfast. Nutribullet or Ninja juicers are good, but there are several different machine types on the market. It’s important to choose one that processes all the flesh of the vegetables rather than one that leaves the flesh and fibre stuck in the machine. Don’t juice any more than one piece of fruit with your vegetables
- One piece of fruit can be added to any of the above breakfast suggestions. If you are eating any more than one piece of fruit its best to accompany it with lean protein and fat (e.g. avocado).
- Wholemeal/multigrain/soda bread with good quality cheese and tomato. This contains quite a few calories but gives steady glucose release and keeps you full for a long time.
When out and about:
If you often eat breakfast in a canteen or hotel, it’s important to know what are the best breakfast choices that will still be enjoyable.
If your only choice is breakfast at a juice bar, ask them for the whole fruit, which is a better option than the juice. If you can add a few nuts to the fruit it would slow down the release of the sugar in the fruit.
Eggs, fish, lean meat, nuts, fruit and vegetables are available in most restaurants, so choose wisely!