Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

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By WebMD/Diabetes News

Melissa Joy Dobbins
Melissa Joy Dobbins (Photo courtesy: Melissa Joy Dobbins website)

You’ve heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s especially true when you have type 2 diabetes. A healthy breakfast can help you control your weight and keep your blood sugar stable, says Melissa Joy Dobbins, RD, a Chicago-based certified diabetes educator.

What should you put on your plate? When you have diabetes, it’s key to keep total carbs consistent day to day, get more fiber, choose fewer processed foods, and make heart-healthy choices, Dobbins says.

Control Carbs

Not going overboard on carbs in the morning can be a challenge, since typical breakfast foods tend to be carb-heavy (think cereal, milk, yogurt, waffles, granola, and fruit).

Exactly how many grams of carbohydrates should you aim for? It depends on your calorie needs, but about 30 to 45 grams is generally a safe range at breakfast. Some people may need less, some more.

The quality of those carbs also matters. Toss out refined grains, such as white toast and pancakes, and replace them with whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy products. Whole grains and fruit will give you extra fiber, which helps control blood sugar, while dairy doubles as a lean protein.

Get Enough Protein

That can be tricky to do at breakfast, since most of us don’t sit down to a chicken breast or block of tofu in the morning. Dobbins has some tips, though.

First, home in on main protein sources: egg whites, lean meat (such as Canadian bacon), plain Greek yogurt (which has more protein than regular yogurt), milk, nuts, beans, and reduced-fat cheese.

Second, don’t forget about the smaller amounts of protein you can get in other foods, like whole-grain breads and vegetables.

Spread out the amount you eat throughout the day. It can help you keep a healthy weight.

Be sure to make heart-healthy choices. “Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease, so you want to do everything you can to keep your heart as healthy as possible,” Dobbins says. Limit sodium and saturated fat, and get more fiber with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

High-Protein Chocolate-Chip Raspberry Pancakes

Nonfat cottage cheese stands in for ricotta in these light, custardy pancakes. Add raspberries, chocolate chips, and orange zest to make them elegant and weekend-worthy. Raspberries also lend this recipe 3 grams of fiber per serving. Round out this special breakfast with two strips of turkey bacon per person, and your meal will still clock in at just 300 calories.

Makes 4 servings (about four small pancakes per person)


1½ cups nonfat cottage cheese

4 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange zest (optional)

1 tbsp sugar

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 tbsp chocolate chips

Nonstick cooking spray

1½ cups raspberries, fresh or frozen


1. In a food processor, blend cottage cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest, if using, and sugar until smooth.

2. Add whole wheat pastry flour and chocolate chips and pulse 2-3 times or until flour is just incorporated (don’t overmix).

3. Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. When pan is hot enough, pour pancake batter in ¼-cup servings.

4. When pancakes start to bubble, scatter raspberries over top, and flip to cook the other side, about 1 minute.

Per serving: 261 calories, 20 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 172 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 9 g sugar. Calories from fat: 28%.

Breakfast Tacos

Who says tacos are just for dinner? This veggie-enhanced twist on the classic breakfast burrito keeps carbs low while maximizing fiber. One whole egg delivers vitamin A, while two extra egg whites boost the protein.

Makes 1 serving


2 small corn tortillas

2 tbsp unsalted canned black beans

1 cup washed spinach or baby spinach

1 tsp canola oil

1 egg and 2 egg whites, beaten together

2 tbsp salsa fresca

pepper to taste


1. Place corn tortillas on a toaster-oven tray; top each with 1 tbsp. black beans. Heat in a 350-degree toaster oven until tortilla and beans are heated through. They should be ready when other ingredients are done cooking.

2. In a small sauté pan, cook spinach with a little water over medium heat until wilted. Remove from pan, drain excess liquid, and set aside.

3. Add oil to the pan and heat. Add beaten eggs to pan and use a spatula to scramble the eggs.

4. When eggs are done, divide eggs and spinach between the two tortillas. Top with salsa fresca and pepper.

Per serving 285 calories, 18 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 164 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 2 g sugar. Calories from fat: 35%.

Mango-Ginger Smoothie

Nonfat Greek yogurt is an impressive source of lean protein. It makes this smoothie a creamy, satisfying drink that’s fat-free and low in sodium. An added bonus: You get an entire cup of fruit in this one drink.

Makes 1 serving


½ cup frozen mango chunks

½ banana

6 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup skim milk

1 tsp maple syrup or honey

¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp freshly grated ginger root (peel before grating)


Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.

Per serving

230 calories, 20 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 113 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 32 g sugar. Calories from fat: 1%.

SOURCES:American Diabetes Association.Durraford, C. Cell, July 2012.Gannon, M. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2003.Joslin Diabetes Center.Melissa Joy Dobbins, RDN, CDE, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.News release, Medpage Today.

(This article is reproduced here from WebMd. Copyright WebMd)


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