Why is breakfast a challenge for Diabetics?
Increasing the ratio of healthy fats (think avocado) and protein (lean meats or legumes) early on in your day sustains your energy levels more than a carb-heavy meal. Because your liver breaks down sugars overnight, it’s completely normal to experience higher blood sugar levels when you wake up in the morning. Cells can also be insulin resistant after a full night of sleep, as your metabolism hasn’t yet kicked in.
Read the label
Cereal boxes come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Tag lines like ‘whole wheat’ or ‘new and improved’ may make you feel better about choosing even the most chocolatey flavours. We encourage you to read labels carefully and to research the ingredients used to make your favourite cereals.
You’re likely to find that the sugar content and number of calories in your cereal is higher than it should be. Most breakfast cereals contain colourants, preservatives and other additives, among which is corn starch. Corn starch is pure sugar, and consuming it in any form is likely to drive up your blood glucose extremely quickly.
Western cultures often include more carbohydrates in breakfast meals, like toast or fry-ups in vegetable oil (bad fats). European countries like Belgium, France and Sweden encourage yoghurts and fruit. Eastern countries often include fruit as well, and spices infused into warm water to clarify the blood and boost the body’s immune system.
Breakfast beverages are equally important. Western societies, in a recent study, were proven to prefer sweeteners (natural and artificial), flavourants and preservatives. European communities preferred natural bitter coffee without sweeteners, or sweetened teas. Eastern cultures encouraged more spiced and green teas, but also displayed a tendency to include sweet eats alongside a strong cuppa.
So what’s the problem?
What’s easily accessible is generally either unhealthy or more cost-effective than the best breakfast options. Diabetics are faced with the challenge of personal cravings as well as physical symptoms that are tough to control. It’s natural to feel hungry when you wake up, and to want a filling meal, especially if you haven’t managed your meal times the day before.
Problems are also caused by skipping breakfast entirely. Without eating the right foods, you can’t kick start your body’s metabolism. This means that the sugars your liver breaks down overnight are not being broken down. Your kidneys begin to feel more and more pressure, and that can be disastrous.
The uphill battle is choosing the right foods even when you’re pressed for time, or when you haven’t prepared. It can be expensive without preparation, so we put together these tips for you to try:
- Shop for fresh produce weekly from a local farmer’s market. The fruit and vegetables are likely to be cheaper and organic.
- Farmer’s markets usually only offer organic homegrown produce, and home-baked treats, so there’s no commercial or artificial dangers to be tempted by.
- Make your salads in larger batches and portion them into ready-to-go containers. This way you only need to make batches every few days, and you can grab them even when in a rush.
- If you want biscuits or doughnuts, make them yourself. Keep ingredients that are safe to substitute for white flour, white sugar etc.
- Scramble or hard boil eggs. It takes the same amount of time as preparing toast with preserves but it offers far more nutritional value for your body.
Manzella, D. 2019. What to eat for breakfast when you have diabetes. Very Well Health. 27 July. Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-breakfast-choices-and-diabetes-1087468 [Accessed 6 August 2019].
Marengo, K. 2018. Can you eat eggs if you have diabetes?. Healthline. 9 November. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/eggs [Accessed 6 August 2019].
University of British Columbia. 2019. Researchers say eggs for breakfast benefits those with diabetes. Medical Xpress. 11 April. Available at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-04-eggs-breakfast-benefits-diabetes.html [Accessed 6 August 2019].