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 blood sugar stable, says Melissa Joy Dobbins, RD. She's a Chicago-based certified diabetes educator.
What should your focus be for the first meal of the day? 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.
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.
Also make sure you get enough protein. Spreading out the protein you eat throughout the day may help you maintain a healthy weight.
Get Enough Protein at Breakfast
It can be tricky to get enough protein 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, such as whole-grain breads and vegetables.
The last thing to keep in mind is 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 add more fiber with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for a hearty -- and heart-healthy -- start to the day.
High-Protein Chocolate-Chip Raspberry Pancakes
Protein-rich 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)
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