Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast Makeover

Last week I wrote a comprehensive post about the fundamentals of diabetes and prediabetes. This week I thought we’d apply the first of the “5 keys to eating for diabetes” to breakfast.

balanced plate

You’ve undoubtedly seen some variation of this model before, but translating it into your meals, particularly breakfast, can be tricky for people!

The before

This is a popular breakfast with my clients. Out here in the prairies, we do like our toast, cereal, OJ, and/or coffee for breakfast.

Trouble is, especially for someone with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, that’s a lot of carbohydrate! A lot of rapidly digested carbohydrate at that, and not much protein, fibre, or heart-healthy fat to slow it down. That breakfast is likely to send blood sugars soaring.

This is a real life example by the way — it’s made of foods people often report eating in counselling sessions.

balanced plate

If we look back at that balanced plate model, you can see that we’re aiming for the grain and starch portion to be about a quarter of the meal. In this breakfast, however, it’s most of the meal, leaving little room for vegetables, fruit, and protein foods.

I did up two different “after” meals for this, one with cereal, one with the toast. You could alternate them, or pick your favourite.

After Option #1

Here are the details. These are JUST EXAMPLES, by the way. There are lots of other options, and you can take or leave any of these suggestions and tinker with your breakfast to the degree you like.

(This chart be easier to read on a phone if you turn it sideways.)

Section Before After Rationale
Vegetables & fruit 8 oz orange juice

(a small glass, but I measured it – 8 oz)

3/4 cup blueberries Less sugar, more fibre in whole vs juiced fruit (even compared to 100% fruit juice, no sugar added)
Whole grains & starches 1 cup cereal
1 slice multigrain toast
2/3 cup higher-fibre, lower-sugar cereal (this one, but any of these would do) Less sugar, more fibre. Shrunk the portion. Think a quarter of the meal.
Protein Foods 2/3 cup 1% milk 2/3 cup 1% milk
2 tbsp slivered almonds
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Added protein, fibre, and healthy fat.
Use any nuts & seeds that you like!
Extras 12 oz coffee 12 oz coffee Coffee is fine if you tolerate it. Yay!
3 tbsp hazelnut creamer 2 tbsp half and half cream
1 tsp hazelnut creamer
Less sugar. Left a bit in for the flavour. You might want to wean down gradually.
1 tsp reduced-sugar jam Don’t need it now that there’s no toast.

For further explanation of the rationale, refer back to last week’s post under “Nutrition for Diabetes.”

If you’re a curious label-reader, here are the nutrition facts for both breakfasts. I purposely made the second meal just a bit lower than the first in food energy (calories). In reality, I’d encourage you to let your appetite be your guide.

Before After
Calories 564 509
Fat (g) 11 25
Saturated fat (g) 5 6
Trans fat (g) 0 0
Carbohydrate (g) 106 60
Fibre (g) 6 15
Sugar (g) 60 32
Added sugar (g) 52 6
Protein (g) 15 23
Cholesterol (mg) 8 19
Sodium (mg) 400 159

Isn’t that something? I ate that bowl of cereal after shooting the pictures, and it was delicious, even with half of the carbohydrates, a fraction of the added sugar, and more than twice the fibre. Every bit as filling too (likely more so).

And don’t panic about the fat — we’ve added mostly heart-healthy fat.

After Option #2

Here are the details:

Section Before After Rationale
Vegetables & fruit 8 oz orange juice 1 mandarin orange
1 slice tomato
1 cups raw arugula, wilted (could use spinach of course, but the arugula flavour really pops)
Whole fruit instead of juice.

Adding veggies is a natural with eggs.

Whole grains & starches 1 cup cereal
1 slice multigrain toast
2 slices sprouted grain bread Higher fibre, lower GI bread.
Less sugar.
Protein foods 2/3 cup 1% milk 2/3 cup 1% milk
1 poached egg
More protein.
Extras 12 oz coffee 12 oz coffee As above.
3 tbsp hazelnut creamer 2 tbsp half and half
1 tsp hazelnut creamer
As above.
1 tsp reduced-sugar jam 1 tsp “better butter
(or a non-hydrogenated margarine)
The fat is actually an improvement over sugar, which even “no sugar added” jam contributes.

And here are the nutrition facts for the second breakfast.

Before After
Calories 564 483
Fat (g) 11 17
Saturated fat (g) 5 7
Trans fat (g) 0 0
Carbohydrate (g) 106 58
Fibre (g) 6 10
Sugar (g) 60 23
Added sugar (g) 52 4
Protein (g) 15 26
Cholesterol (mg) 8 210
Sodium ( mg) 400 426

Again, we’ve slashed he carbohydrates but left lots of nutrition, so you’re satisfied and well-nourished. Like the cereal option, this would be much easier on the old blood sugars.

What’s on your breakfast menu?

balanced plateNo matter what you enjoy for breakfast, see if you can make it look a bit more like this balanced plate. For most people that means more fruit or possibly vegetables, more protein-rich foods, and less carbohydrate. But you can still enjoy some of your favourites like toast and cereal.

(And if you really like to start the day with juice, as many people do, see if you can measure out 4 ounces or 1/2 cup.)

Share your breakfast makeover in our Sweet Spot Heart-Healthy Cooking Club on Facebook or if you like, book yourself in with me for a Cardiac Nutrition Assessment for more personalized guidance from me.

Eating well while addressing high blood sugars is absolutely possible! That’s the Sweet Spot. 😉

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