Breakfast for a diabetic

7 Easy Breakfast Ideas for Type 2 Diabetes

2. Muffin Parfait

Halve a whole grain or other high-fiber muffin (aim for one with 30 grams of carbohydrates and at least 3 grams of fiber), cover with berries, and top with a dollop of low- or nonfat yogurt for a fast and easy breakfast.

3. Whole-Grain Cereal

Hot or cold, the right cereal makes a great breakfast. Enjoy a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal with skim milk, or heat up plain oatmeal. “When it comes to whole grain cereal, you can’t beat a bowl of steel-cut oats,” says Kennedy. “They’re packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals and make a great base for a healthy and diabetes-friendly breakfast.” Just remember that a little goes along way: A half cup equals one serving and about 15 grams of carbs. And watch what you add to it. Limit the butter and sugar — instead, top with fresh fruit, skim milk, or a sugar substitute to sweeten your meal.

4. Scrambled Eggs and Toast

The old standby breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast can be a healthy way to start the day if you cook them right. Scramble the egg in a nonstick pan with cooking spray. Enjoy this with a slice of whole-wheat toast topped with a light butter substitute, low-fat cream cheese, or sugar-free jam.

5. Breakfast Burrito

This filling and easy meal can be eaten on the go when wrapped in foil. Using a nonstick skillet and cooking spray, scramble an egg with onions and green peppers or spinach. Place in a warmed whole-wheat tortilla, sprinkle with nonfat cheddar cheese, add some salsa, and you have a healthy breakfast to keep you going until lunch.

6. Bagel Thins With Nut Butter

Bagels are notoriously large, so consider enjoying bagel thins instead — otherwise you may overload on carbohydrates. Top the bagel thins or flats with peanut or almond butter for a dose of healthy fat and protein that’s a satisfying, lower-carb energy boost.

7. Almonds and Fruit

For a breakfast you can eat on the run, grab a hearty handful of whole, raw almonds and a small serving of low glycemic-index fruit, such as berries, a peach, an apple, or an orange. The fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats in the nuts will help you feel full, and the fruit adds additional fiber and a touch of sweetness to your morning without causing a blood-sugar spike.

More Breakfast Tips for Type 2 Diabetes

When you’re planning or preparing your healthy breakfast, keep these points in mind:

  • Watch your portion sizes.
  • Keep the diabetes dietary goals in mind, and consider using “the plate method”: Fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, one quarter with protein, and the remaining quarter with a grain or starch. And then you might add a serving of fruit and dairy to your meal.
  • Choose healthy fats such as olive or canola oils, avocado, and nuts.
  • Choose lean meats, such as Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, or eggs.
  • Eat low-fat dairy foods, such as nonfat or 1 percent milk, low-fat or fat-free yogurt (choose plain, unflavored yogurt and add one serving of fruit for sweetness, or choose yogurt sweetened with sugar substitutes), and low-fat cheeses.
  • Avoid fat- and sugar-laden coffee drinks. Drink regular coffee and use 2 percent milk and a sugar substitute.

To get more breakfast ideas and make sure you are eating the right portion sizes and types of foods, work with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator. A dietitian can help create a meal plan that is right for you and your type 2 diabetes.

For more type 2 diabetes breakfast ideas, check out Diabetes Daily’s article “7 Low-Carb Breakfast Ideas to Start Your Day”!

Ask the Expert
What’s the Best Breakfast for Diabetes?

Answers by Jaclyn Konich, MPH, RD

For people with diabetes, the “most important meal of the day” can also be the most confusing. Typical American breakfast options—bagels, cereal, pancakes, muffins, bacon, eggs—are loaded with refined carbs, sugar, and saturated fat, the exact things that we’re told to limit. So what should we eat for breakfast?


Research confirms that eating breakfast is generally a good idea—it can help with weight management, help you feel fuller throughout the day, and help keep blood glucose in range.
Just because breakfast is important doesn’t mean it has to be an elaborate meal. It can be as simple as a piece of toast smothered in avocado or peanut butter, a string cheese and a handful of nuts, or a hardboiled egg and a piece of fruit.
Related: How To Start a Healthy Day

4 Tips for Building a Healthy Breakfast

What works for you for breakfast will depend on your personal meal plan, food preferences, health goals, schedule, and budget, but here are a few tips for building a healthy breakfast:

  1. Limit or avoid refined grains and sugars. This means most breakfast cereals and pastries are best avoided. If cereal is your go-to breakfast, look for options that are low in added sugar (aim for less than 5g per serving) and higher in fiber (at least 3g per serving). You can apply this same rule to other sweet breakfast foods like muffins or granola bars.

  2. Be carb conscious. The total amount of carbs you have at breakfast will depend on your personal meal plan and how your body handles carbs in the morning. A lot of traditional breakfast foods contain carbs, so it’s important to keep track of what foods in your breakfast contain carbs and what it all adds up to. Cereal, milk, and fruit all contain carbs, and can add up quickly when combined together. And a single bagel can have upwards of 50g of carb!

  3. Choose healthy fats. Fats can help you feel fuller longer, but choose wisely. Bacon, sausage, and eggs fried in butter are all high in saturated fats which can increase risk of heart disease. Instead, fry eggs in a little bit of olive oil, choose turkey bacon or chicken sausage instead of their pork counterparts, and incorporate healthy unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, and avocado.

  4. Include lean protein and fiber. One of the main goals of breakfast is to keep you full until lunchtime. Protein and fiber digest slowly and stave off hunger hormones so you feel fuller longer. A breakfast high in protein and fiber can help reduce cravings before lunch and help keep blood sugar in range.

Lean protein options:

  • Eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are a portable option. Poaching is a great way to cook eggs without adding any fat. If you prefer fried or scrambled eggs, use olive oil instead of butter.

  • Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has more protein and less carbs per serving than regular yogurt. Buy plain, unsweetened yogurt and add your own flavor with fresh fruit, nuts, or granola.

  • Cottage cheese. Eat it plain or topped with fresh fruit for something sweet. For something savory, try adding chopped tomato, cucumber and a sprinkling of dill

  • Nuts or nut butter. Add nuts to granola or yogurt, top toast with peanut butter and cinnamon, or dip apple slices in your favorite nut butter.

  • Tofu. You can make vegan scrambled “eggs” with crumbled tofu, or add silken tofu to a smoothie for a protein boost.

Related: 9 Low-Carb Breakfast Recipes

High fiber options:

  • Oatmeal and other whole grain breads or cereals.

  • Fruit, especially berries, apples, pears, avocado.

  • Seeds like chia, flax, or hemp seeds. Adding 1-2 tablespoons to a smoothie, cereal, or yogurt is an easy way to boost fiber in your breakfast

  • Beans. While less popular in American, baked beans on toast is part of traditional English breakfast. Or, try adding black beans or pinto beans to a breakfast burrito or a breakfast hash.

Related: Meal Prep: Breakfast on the Go


Egg and Avocado Toasts

Only 240 calories, but loaded with healthy fats, protein, and fiber that will keep you feeling full until lunch

Oatmeal Pecan Pancakes

A Saturday morning favorite made healthier by using ground oats instead of flour for a fiber boost.

Instant Pot Individual Vegetable Frittatas

Perfectly-portioned breakfast cups made in an Instant Pot—great for busy mornings!

Blueberry Green Tea Smoothie

This antioxidant-rich smoothie gets a protein boost from tofu and protein powder

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Parfait

Make these parfaits in portable mason jars for a healthier alternative to store-bought yogurt cups

Budget-Friendly Summer Vegetable Frittata

Trying to eat more veggies? Frittata is an easy and delicious way to add veggies to breakfast

Savory Mediterranean Oats

Try this savory twist on oatmeal instead of traditionally sweet recipes

Guilt-Free Breakfast Sausage Patties

Ground turkey reduces saturated fat and calories, but the traditional breakfast sausage flavor is maintained a special blend of herbs and spices

June 2019 Share

Pancake recipes – healthy ingredient substitutions

Try these mini blueberry pancakes

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is the traditional day to eat pancakes in the UK, but they’re quick and easy to make anytime.

If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you might think pancakes are full of carbs and calories, which they can be – but our message is that if you make simple switches in ingredients you don’t have to miss out on treats on special occasions.

We’ve got a few swaps you can try, ideas for healthier toppings – sweet and savoury – plus tips if you’re gluten- or dairy-free. Try our foolproof recipe and get flipping…

Try our recipe for perfect pancakes

Download your How to make healthier pancakes (PDF 578,KB)

What’s in a pancake?

Just four ingredients:

  • plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • milk

Four simple switches to make your pancakes healthier

  • Use skimmed milk.
  • Don’t add butter to the batter.
  • Use a spray oil or measure your oil (1 tsp of oil is enough to cook 8 pancakes if you use the same oil soaked in kitchen paper and wiped around your frying pan).
  • Use low-sugar, low-saturated fat toppings.

Here’s how to change some of the ingredients to make your pancakes healthier or suit your diet.


Pancakes can be made with most flours: white or wholemeal wheat, oat flour, rice flour or buckwheat. As well as gluten-free flour you can use nut or rice flour.

  • Try our gluten-free crepes

Depending on the flour you choose, you can use this classic recipe as a guideline; but you may need a little more or less liquid as absorption rates vary. Different flours such as nut flours need a gentler heat to prevent burning. You can even make pancakes from potatoes.

  • Try our potato pancakes

Eggs and milk

Most pancakes contain egg, but not all. You can use egg substitutes for a vegan alternative. The liquid is milk or water or a mixture of both, so use skimmed milk for a lower-fat version. Soy, rice milk or nut milks, such as almond, work well too.

Top tips for top batter

  • Sift your chosen flour into a bowl. (This is to add air, so when sifting wholemeal flour you’ll be left with the wheat bran in the sieve; just add this back into the sieved flour.)
  • Mix a pinch of salt into the flour, then make a well in the middle. Add lightly beaten egg and half your liquid and mix into a smooth paste.
  • Gradually mix in the rest of the liquid and beat it until you have a smooth batter with no lumps. If using wheat flour, cover the batter and leave it to stand for 30 minutes to an hour. This relaxes the gluten and improves the texture of the pancakes, making them softer and less chewy.

Cooking tips

With any pancakes it’s important to get an even medium temperature across the pan; non-stick pans are the best option. You need virtually no oil if the temperature and consistency are right.

  • Test the pan with a small pancake first to make sure it’s not too hot or too cool. Start with a low to medium heat and allow the pan to heat fully before adding the oil and batter.
  • Add a little batter (2–3 tablespoons is plenty) to the pan and swirl it gently to spread the batter out thinly. Leave for 30–40 seconds, it should form a crust on the edges and the pancake will have bubbles in the middle.
  • Ease the edges with a spatula and shake the pan. You should be able to move the pancake around without it sticking. It’s now ready to flip. You can use a large spatula or toss the pancake then cook the other side for around 1 minute.

Four steps to flipping a pancake

  1. A shallow-sided pan is best. (You can buy specific pancake pans, too.)
  2. Make sure the pancake is cooked and slides easily round the pan when shaken.
  3. Slide the pancake towards the handle then away from it a couple of times.
  4. Then, when shaking it, increase the speed and flick the pan upwards and away from you, only a few centimetres but quite vigorously. This should toss it onto the other side.

Top toppings

  • Lemon juice and sugar are traditional toppings, but try a sugar alternative, such as a low-calorie

    granulated sweetener instead with a squeeze of fresh orange.

  • Try chopped nuts, grated lemon or orange zest or 0% fat Greek yogurt and berries.
  • Go savoury with beetroot and a sliver of goat’s cheese (it’s high in saturated fat but strong tasting so a little goes a long way), or prawn and avocado.

Fillings for you to try:

Garlic mushrooms

Rhubarb fool

Roasted red veg with ginger and garlic

Barbecued fruit

Studies indicate that enjoying a healthy breakfast every morning suppresses hormones associated with elevated blood sugar and improves insulin production. Skipping breakfast (or any meal) is a bad idea for diabetics as it usually leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. Portion control is particularly important as overeating and fasting both lead to significant fluctuations in glucose levels.

Ideal breakfast for diabetics include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and eggs in moderation. Low-fat cheeses, yogurt and milk can be included in reasonable amounts.

Here’s 10 ideas for the discerning diabetic to get the most out of breakfast.

Low-Fat Whole Wheat Pancakes – This recipe is egg-free and dairy-free, but it’s anything but flavor-free. Be sure to use a sugar-free syrup and consider replacing the 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar in the recipe with a sugar substitute. A garnish of nuts and dried fruit provides additional taste and energy. While a stack of 5 pancakes is attractive, it’s advised that you keep your portion to just 1 or 2.

Microwave Farmers Omelet (In A Cup) – This quick recipe provides all the satisfaction of a diner-style breakfast in a matter of minutes… in a mug. As long as your ham isn’t glazed, it won’t affect glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends having 2 to 5 ounces of protein-rich foods daily. The cheese can be omitted or you could use your favorite low-fat variety.

Strawberry Banana Smoothies – When it comes to smoothies, avoid using fruit juices (which can be deceptively high in sugar) and always taste before adding any sweeteners. Most of the time, the fruits you use are plenty sweet on their own. If a recipe specifies yogurt, choose a low-fat or non-fat option.

Basic Oatmeal With Nuts – For this recipe, replace the honey with a sugar substitute. Honey and sugar have similar effects on blood sugar. 1% or skim milk are the best milk options for diabetics.

Afghani Eggs – This simple baked egg dish has only 4 ingredients minus an optional sprinkle of salt and cilantro. Tomato provides some vitamin C, vitamin E and iron.

Iced Fruit Smoothie – This recipe is so simple, you might think it’s fake. Basically, you throw any frozen fruit you have in blender with skim milk. The combinations are endless. I tested the recipe with bananas, raspberries, blueberries and pineapple and I loved it.

Low Carb Spinach Scramble – Next time you’re ‘scrambling’ to find a healthy breakfast, try these scrambled eggs with onions and peppers served over a bed of sautéed spinach.

Low Carb Pumpkin Pancakes – During the holiday season when everywhere you look is sugar and more sugar, these pancakes can provide holiday flavors and make you hyper-happy instead of hyperglycemic.

Banana Nut Oatmeal – The beauty of this recipe… if your banana is ripe, you won’t feel the need to add additional sweeteners. This is a microwave recipe that takes about 5 minutes from start to finish.

Poached Haddock (U.K.) – The American Diabetes Association recommends having fish at least two times per week. Don’t rule out getting one of those servings at breakfast. Smoked haddock is hugely popular for breakfast in the U.K. Here, it is served with poached eggs.

Studies about Breakfast & Diabetes:

University of Missouri: People with type 2 diabetes can reduce blood sugar spikes later in the day by starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast.

Tel Aviv University : Diabetics who eat big breakfasts and small dinners have fewer episodes of high blood sugar than those who eat small breakfasts and large dinners.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem : A big breakfast may help people with type 2 diabetes better control their hunger and their blood sugar levels.

Harvard University School of Public Health: Women who skip breakfast have a 20% higher risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than those who eat breakfast daily.

University of Minnesota: People who eat breakfast regularly have a significantly lower risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Harvard University: Men who skip breakfast are 21% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who eat breakfast daily.

Georgia Centenarian Study: People who regularly eat breakfast have lower rates of Type 2 diabetes and are less likely to develop heart failure.

American Heart Association: Those who eat breakfast are less likely to become obese and develop type 2 diabetes than those who do not eat breakfast.

For more about Diabetic-Friendly Meals: Visit the American Diabetes Association or Diabetes Forecast (The Healthy Living Magazine).

What Can I Eat to Keep My Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Low?

Q: My blood test shows prediabetes and a cholesterol score of 208 mg/dl (5.4 mmol/l). I’m finding it difficult to know what to eat because the recommended diets for these conditions seem contrary. For example, fruit is said to be acceptable on a low-cholesterol diet but not on a low-blood-sugar one, while meat is the opposite. How can I balance this out?

Many people who have high blood sugar also have high cholesterol levels. However, both can be managed with a healthy diet. What’s more, for some, it’s possible to reverse prediabetes through diet and lifestyle changes (1).

It’s common to see misinformation about what foods are bad for certain conditions, including high cholesterol, prediabetes, and diabetes. Nevertheless, the overall quality of your diet is most important.

The three macronutrients — carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — have different impacts on both blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

For example, sources of carbs like bread, pasta, and fruit affect blood sugar more than sources of protein or fat. On the other hand, cholesterol-containing fat sources, such as dairy and meat, have a greater effect on cholesterol than on blood sugar.

Still, food sources of cholesterol only significantly affect blood levels in people deemed cholesterol hyper-responders. In fact, two-thirds of the population experience little to no change in their levels after eating cholesterol-rich foods (2, 3).

Regardless, decreasing blood sugar and cholesterol levels through your diet doesn’t have to be difficult, and many foods help lower each of these markers. For instance, consuming more nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods — such as vegetables and beans — reduces both blood sugar and cholesterol levels (4, 5).

Additionally, increasing protein intake and decreasing consumption of refined carbs — including white bread and sugary sweets — may also lower blood sugar, decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol (6, 7).

Here are a few tips to effectively reduce high blood sugar and cholesterol levels:

  • Eat healthy fats. To reduce cholesterol levels, many people cut out sources of fat from their diets. However, research shows that eating healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and improve blood sugar control (8, 9).
  • Reduce your intake of added sugars. Added sugars — such as those found in candy, ice cream, baked goods, and sweetened beverages — negatively affect both cholesterol and blood sugar. Cutting added sugar out of your diet is one of the best ways to improve overall health, including decreasing blood sugar and cholesterol levels (10).
  • Consume more vegetables. Increasing your intake of both fresh and cooked vegetables can significantly improve blood sugar and cholesterol. Try adding veggies like spinach, artichokes, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower to your meals and snacks (11).
  • Eat mostly whole, nutritious foods. Relying on packaged foods or fast-food restaurants can damage your health, potentially raising cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Prepare more meals at home using whole, nutrient-rich foods that support metabolic health — such as vegetables, beans, fruits, and healthy sources of protein and fat, including fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil (12).

Other healthy ways to reduce both blood sugar and cholesterol levels include increasing physical activity and losing excess body fat (13, 14).

Jillian Kubala is a Registered Dietitian based in Westhampton, NY. Jillian holds a master’s degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. Aside from writing for Healthline Nutrition, she runs a private practice based on the east end of Long Island, NY, where she helps her clients achieve optimal wellness through nutritional and lifestyle changes. Jillian practices what she preaches, spending her free time tending to her small farm that includes vegetable and flower gardens and a flock of chickens. Reach out to her through her website or on Instagram.

Recipes for Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Mediterranean Diet by Prescription

With all the confusion about what to eat, and with how often nutrition experts seem to change their minds, I thought it was time to go back to basic culinary medicine and see if I could find groups of recipes and actual foods for specific chronic conditions.

In other words, how much has changed since I did this in ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine almost 9 years ago?

Not much, at least for longevity and well-being: Blue Zone diets (whether Okinawan, from the Nicorean Peninsula of Costa Rica, or the Icarian diet of Greece or the Loma Linda Seventh Day Adventist diets) all work to lower heart disease risk, diabetes risk, high blood pressure risk and cholesterol levels. Only one of them is Mediterranean, which is closest to what health conscious Americans have gravitated towards, what with its red wine daily suggestion and all.

But there have been a number of specific food research studies that raise or lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, so I’ll attempt to summarize them in the following few blogs. And there’s some very interesting work about how to eat, cook and spend time in nature to improve productivity, reduce chronic stress, and improve energy.

Note that there isn’t just one good diet, even in the longevity centers of the Blue Zones–there are at least four: Loma Linda is low fat largely vegetarian; Okinawan is lower fat, higher fermented foods, with little meat but lots of fish; Nicorean is omnivorous; and Mediterranean is rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, wine and olive oil but relatively light on meat, dairy, poultry and eggs. And not low fat, at all. Cretan men are famous for drinking a glass of olive oil at breakfast or lunch and then going back to work.

Still, we’re not working like workers from Crete did, and we are developing chronic diseases fast and furiously. So I’ve summarized key sample recipes for several of those conditions and for the Mediterranean diet and feature them on a prescription slip here–a culinary medicine rx–and will write more about each. Why those foods and recipes work is the subject of a lot of research, and future work.

Meanwhile, you can download the prescription, free, and print it out. Or click on any of its links in a clickable Rx pdf to check out the recipes.


Books, Clinical Research, Culinary medicine, Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Hypertension, Obesity and Weight Loss, Recipes


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