1. Breakfast Smoothie With Berries and Greek Yogurt
You don’t have to say “so long” to smoothies for breakfast, even if you have type 2 diabetes. The key is to make sure it’s a balanced smoothie, with protein and fiber, and that it’s relatively low in sugar. Moderation is key, so stick to a small glass.
Take this Very Berry Smoothie recipe from Jill Weisenberger, RDN, CDCES, of Yorktown, Virginia, the author of Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week. “What I love about this smoothie — besides that it’s delicious — is that it’s packed with protein just from the Greek yogurt — no protein powders needed,” she says. Each 1½ cup serving of this smoothie offers a whopping 22 grams (g) of protein, making it an excellent source, with 30 g of carbs and 5 g of fiber, making it an excellent source of fiber, too!
Plus, because the recipe has just four ingredients — yogurt; frozen, fiber-rich berries; milk; and a sweetener if you’d like — it’s a perfect breakfast when you’re in a rush. “It’s fast and even portable, and all the ingredients are something you’d have at home or that are easy to substitute,” adds Weisenberger.
Nutrition per serving (1½ cups): 205 calories, 0g total fat (0g saturated fat), 22g protein, 30g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 100mg sodium
2. Whole-Wheat Blueberry Muffins With a Protein-Rich Side
Baked goods like muffins don’t have to be off the table if you have diabetes, especially if you whip up a batch of whole-wheat blueberry muffins like these from Vincci Tsui, RDN, who’s based in Calgary, Alberta. “A common myth about diabetes is that sugar and carbs need to be avoided in order to manage blood sugars,” says Tsui. Combining smaller portions of foods that have a higher glycemic index with protein-rich foods in moderation can make for a meal with lower glycemic load than large portions of food high on the glycemic index, she explains.
The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) sound similar, but they’re different.
GI measures how certain foods affect blood glucose, or sugar, levels, according to Johns Hopkins. GI accounts both for how high the food raises blood sugar levels and for how long after your meal. All foods are ranked from 1 to 100, and foods seen as “high” on the GI (greater than 70) increase blood sugar quicker than those considered low (less than 55), Johns Hopkins notes.
GL is another metric that some healthcare professionals believe offers a more accurate picture of how a food impacts your glucose numbers, according to Harvard Medical School. It takes into account not just the GI but also “glucose per serving.” So, watermelon has a GI of 80 (which is considered high), but because one serving has so few carbs, the GL for watermelon would be 5, which is low.
Still, the food you eat does not stand alone, as Tsui hints at above. People often group foods together, which in some cases can have a positive impact on the GL, according to Johns Hopkins. For example, they say that if you eat plain bread, your glucose afterward isn’t the same as when you eat bread with peanut butter, which provides protein — specifically 3.6 g of protein per tablespoon (tbsp), notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Tsui recommends combining a fiber-filled muffin, like this one, with Greek yogurt for a yummy take on a parfait; a slice of cheese; or a hard-boiled egg for a quick, satisfying and diabetes-friendly breakfast. If you’re opting for yogurt, reach for the nonfat, plain Greek variety to cut down on total fat and potentially help regulate your weight. A 156 g container of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt provides 16.1 g of protein, according to the USDA.
Last, keep in mind that a single muffin has 31 g of carbs.
Nutrition per serving (1 muffin): 214 calories, 9g total fat (5.1g saturated fat), 5g protein, 31g carbohydrates, 2.9g fiber, 13.1g sugar (9.5g added sugar), 212mg sodium
3. Whole-Grain Cereal With Oatmeal, Egg, and Ground Flaxseed
Hot or cold, the right cereal makes a great breakfast. “Oatmeal,” for example, “can either be a super bland, boring breakfast that leaves you hungry an hour later — or, done right, it can be delicious and satisfying,” says Anne Mauney, MPH, RDN, of Alexandria, Virginia, the creator of the website Fannetastic Food. “This high-protein oatmeal recipe has staying power — and is made diabetes-friendly by the addition of protein from eggs and milk and healthy fat from ground flaxseed, both of which will help keep your blood sugar more stable and also keep you full for longer.” You heard that right — the oatmeal recipe calls for eggs, which gives the bowl 16 g of protein total per serving, making it an excellent source.
What’s more, the flaxseed provides a nice helping of fiber. When eaten alone, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed provides 1.91 g of fiber and 1.3 g of protein, notes the USDA. Your carb tally per serving for this recipe will be 53 g.
Oatmeal made with eggs and ground flaxseed might seem complicated, but all you have to do is add the ingredients (there are only six) in a pot on the stovetop, and cook while stirring for five minutes. It’s that easy!
One thing to keep in mind with this recipe is that relative to most of the other diabetes breakfast ideas on this list, the carb count is high. Be sure to avoid any high-carb add-ins such as dried fruit, and opt for a carb-free beverage such as water or plain coffee as your side.
Nutrition per serving: 376 calories, 12g total fat (2.5g saturated fat), 16g protein, 53g carbohydrates, 8.9g fiber, 10.8g sugar (0g added sugar), 88mg sodium
4. Vegetarian Eggs and Lentils on Toast