Breakfast is considered by many nutritionists to be the most important meal of the day. Is that true for people who have type 2 diabetes?
The very word “breakfast” gives us the first clue about why this meal is so important. It is the first meal after a fast of eight or more hours. Just like a car, the body needs fuel to get going for the day and that fuel comes from food. This is true for everybody, but for people who have type 2 diabetes, regular meals are very important in keeping blood sugar levels stable and managing diabetes.
There are studies that show that eating a balanced breakfast not only provides a good start to the day, but can actually have a positive effect on blood sugar levels after lunch and dinner. It appears that the beta cells are more responsive in the morning and thereby more efficient in triggering insulin secretion. This helps the body to regulate glucose levels throughout the day.
Skipping breakfast can also lead to making poor food choices later in the day when blood sugar levels drop. For someone with type 2 diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels steady is very important in avoiding the serious complications of diabetes. If blood sugar gets too low, you may experience dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and even more serious symptoms of hypoglycemia. Don’t take a chance – eat your breakfast!
What if you just don’t like breakfast or are short on time in the morning? Here are some suggestions for making eating breakfast a little easier.
Move around. Some light stretching or exercise in the morning may improve your appetite for breakfast (and exercise in the morning also has many other benefits!)
Keep it simple. Breakfast doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair– it can be something simple like plain yogurt with blueberries or even a KIND bar which are fairly low-carb (check the label for your favorite flavor though to make sure the carbs are low!). Keep your kitchen stocked with easy or no-cook breakfast options– like peanut butter, eggs and cheese. Breakfast can even be as easy as a sandwich and fruit or a carb-conscious high protein breakfast smoothie you can have on the go.
Think outside the box. Don’t like traditional breakfast options? Heat up leftovers from dinner the night before instead! Just eating something in the morning is all that’s needed to help your blood sugar– it doesn’t have to be pancakes or cereal. Here are some more diabetes-friendly breakfast ideas.
Eat some fiber mid-morning. Getting enough fiber is important for everyone, but the benefits of eating some fiber in the morning for people with diabetes are huge. It will help keep you full and smooth our your blood sugar levels too too. Curious to learn why fiber is so important for people with diabetes? Watch our video about it here.
Get some protein. Studies have shown that protein in the morning is super-helpful for preventing those after-meal blood sugar spikes after lunch and dinner.
Stay within your carb budget. Your doctor or diabetes educator has likely given you some carbohydrate guidelines to follow (you can watch our video about using a “carb budget” here) to keep your blood sugar in the right range—use that as your guide in terms of figuring out how many carbs your breakfast should have.
A simple and nutritious breakfast is one of the best ways to start your day with energy and keep your type 2 diabetes under control. Enjoy!