Breakfast Ideas When You Have Diabetes

Simple Breakfast Meal and Recipe Ideas for Diabetes

Bowl of oatmeal with bananas
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Breakfast is an important meal, especially for people with type 2 diabetes. People who skip breakfast tend to have more problems regulating their blood glucose levels. Why? It is likely a result of several factors:

  • Routinely skipping breakfast will increase the body's insulin response, resulting in increased fat storage and weight gain. In fact, studies have shown that people who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight.
  • A healthy breakfast replenishes energy stores that burn off during the night. Those who pass on the meal may have lower energy and burn off fewer calories and carbs.
  • Eating breakfast leads to smarter meal plan choices throughout the rest of the day. Have you ever noticed that when you skip breakfast you become so hungry that by mid-morning you begin to scavenge for whatever is around? When you do eat, you gobble it down so quickly that you end up eating way too much. Immediately, this causes a spike in blood sugar. Long-term, this leads to weight gain and the increased likelihood of developing diabetes-related complications.
  • Sticking to your personalized meal plan (which, for most people with diabetes, includes 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal), regulates carbohydrate intake. Skipping a meal asks a broken endocrine system to try to maintain blood glucose levels with even fewer tools. It's like asking a child to complete a jigsaw puzzle without giving them all of the pieces. It just doesn't work.

    What you eat for breakfast is also important. Breakfast has the potential of becoming a very calorie and carbohydrate-dense meal if you are not careful.

    The following links provide more information about choosing healthy breakfast meals when you have diabetes:

    Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast Meals for on the Go - Make it a Wrap

    Mornings tend to be hectic for most people, but wraps can be an efficient way to ensure a healthy start. A 6" tortilla is going to provide about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Fill the tortilla with another 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrate in the form of low-fat dairy, fruit, or whole-grain starches. Round out the meal with some lean proteins, nuts or a glass of skim milk. Take it to go! Here are some ideas:

    Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast Smoothies

    Choose your favorite recipe, then prep your blender with the ingredients (minus the ice) in the evening, so you are ready to blend in the morning. Just stick the pitcher in the fridge overnight.

    Low-fat dairy products provide protein, carbohydrate, and work well as a base for many smoothie recipes. Silken tofu or peanut butter can be used as an alternative to yogurt, and/or to cut the carbohydrate content of the smoothie.

    If you are lactose-intolerant, use lactose-free or soy milk in place of skim milk, and silken tofu in place of yogurt (if the recipe requires it).

    Another tip: Bananas incorporate well into smoothies and help to produce a nice, smooth texture. They also offer natural sweetness. If your meal plan allows enough carbohydrate for you to add a small banana to you smoothie, I highly recommend using bananas to improve smoothie results. Here are some smoothie ideas:

    Sit-Down Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast Meals

    Sitting down for breakfast, when you have time, is always best for both mind and body. If you can adjust your morning routine to sit for breakfast sometimes, you'll likely find that you have more options to fit your meal plan.

    Sometimes doing some evening prep-work the night before can make it possible for you to enjoy a sit-down breakfast. Try mixing together ingredients for your morning omelet, covering and refrigerating until the morning. Or try rinsing and dicing the fruit for your cereal the night before.


    Affenito, SG. Breakfast: A Missed Opportunity. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2007 107:565-569.

    Barton BA, Eldridge AL, Thompson D, Affenito SG, Striegel0Moore RH, Franko DL, Albertson AM, Crockett SJ. The Relationship of Breakfast and Cereal Consumption to Nutrient Intake and Body Mass Index: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2005 105:1283.

    Cho S, Dietrich M, Brown CJ, Clark CA, Block G. The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2003 22:296-302.

    Firore H, Travis S, Whalen A, Auinger P, Ryan S. Potentially Protective Factors Associated with Healthful Body Mass Index in Adolescents with Obese and Nonobese Parents: A Secondary Data Analysis of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2006 106:55-64.