Diabetes and Big Breakfast

Posted: May 8, 2011 by amygilman in Nutrition Q & Amy
Tags: , ,

I am a Nutrition Editor at Foodpicker.org, a website designed to help people with diabetes.  Here is a question I recently received:


On special occasions, my family usually gets together for a big breakfast. Now that I have diabetes, I’m not sure what I can eat. Waffles, pastries, omelets, bacon, or what? What are the best items I should choose?”


Breakfast is a great way to get together with family in an informal way.  With a big family get-together usually comes high calorie and high fat foods.  There are ways that you can visit with family, consume a hearty breakfast, and manage your diabetes all at once.  Of course an overall healthy diet consists of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, good fats and lean proteins.  Fueling up your body with healthy foods will help to manage diabetes.  Fueling up on high calorie/high fat foods may make you feel sluggish, may cause weight gain and may not be ideal for controlling blood sugars.  However, it sounds like your family breakfasts are only for certain occasions.  In this scenario if your favorite foods are the items you listed (waffles, pastries, omelets, bacon), try eating these only on special occasions AND try to stick to the portion size.

Here are some Healthy Breakfast Tips

  1. At A Restaurant:  If your breakfast occasions are at a restaurant, plan your carbohydrates out for the entire day and stick to an actual portion size.  For example if you order waffles, you may receive an enormous waffle that could be equivalent to 4 servings of carbohydrates (1 serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams, this waffle could potentially equal 60g).   60g at breakfast may be an acceptable number for you, but planning your carbohydrate intake for the rest of the day will help ensure that you do not exceed your daily allotment. A dietitian can help you figure out how many carbohydrates you need per day and per meal.  For additional resources there is a book you can order for about $3 called Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes (1). It is a great resource for meal planning and carbohydrate counting.
  2. Breakfast at Home:  If the family breakfasts are at your home or a family member, you may have more control over how breakfast items are prepared.  For example, you can try substituting rolls or toast made from white flour with whole grain rolls or toast, which will add more fiber.  Check out this website for diabetes friendly recipes such as Nutmeg Pancakes with Lemon Zest and Berries (2).
  3. Watch the Sodium:  Ordering a side order of bacon or pork sausage can drastically increase your sodium intake and send you over your daily allotment for sodium.  Look for reduced sodium and reduced fat sources.  Canadian bacon and lean ham are lower in fat than pork sausage.  Stick to portion sizes here.  A slice or two of bacon is the limit.
  4. Fruit:  By cutting back on your portion sizes of the typical breakfast items, you can add fresh fruit to help fill you up, provide you with vitamins and antioxidants and may help slow blood sugar spikes compared to fruit juices.
  5. Omelets:  Omelets can be a healthy dish depending on the ingredients that go into them.  Add spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms or just about any vegetable you like.  The 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggest that up to 1 egg per day is acceptable and will not raise cholesterol (3).  Use egg whites and one whole egg to make the omelet.

The moral of this story is to try to stick to a healthy diet and kick off each day with a breakfast that has lots of vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and lean protein and save the high calorie/high fat breakfasts for a special occasion.  Consider counting carbohydrates to help keep blood sugars stabilized.


  1. http://www.amazon.com/Choose-Your-Foods-Exchange-Diabetes/dp/0880913770.  Accessed May 8, 2011.
  2. http://www.americandiabetes.com/diabetic-recipes/breakfast-brunch.  Accessed May 8, 2011.
  3. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/Chapter3.pdf.  Accessed May 8, 2011.
  1. Thank you for a great post.

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