Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if you have diabetes, it’s a familiar phrase that should be taken seriously. A good breakfast provides you with much-needed energy while helping you maintain a safe blood glucose level. However, eating breakfast doesn’t mean you have to stick to boring, sugar-free cereals and skim milk. Breakfast can be fun with these choices!
- A breakfast burrito is fast and tasty… and you don’t have to be a master chef to make it! Use a whole wheat (or low carb) tortilla, scrambled egg, your favorite veggies or sugar-free salsa and low-fat cheddar cheese, and warm everything up. For extra flavor, dip your burrito in fat-free sour cream.
- Broiled grapefruit is a low-glycemic fruit that’s delicious and satisfying. Halve the fruit and place cut-side up on cookie sheet. Drizzle a little honey on top, sprinkle some cinnamon and broil 2 to 5 minutes.
- Top a high-bran muffin with sugar-free yogurt and mixed berries. A plain bran muffin is another great choice.
- Yogurt/berry parfaits can be made any time of year with frozen or fresh fruit. Spoon plain, low-fat Greek style yogurt over pitted cherries, blueberries, strawberries or apple chunks and drizzle with a little honey.
Lunch Menu Suggestions
Most of us look forward to lunch all day! Lunch menu selections you’ll love include:
- Salads made with chicken, tuna, or fish (fresh is better than canned, whenever possible). Instead of dressing, flavor your salad with a small amount of lemon juice, which is healthier. You can also make a dressing with fresh mango, a bit of lemon juice or water and ground ginger. Just put the ingredients in a blender, and you’re ready to go with a sweet, citrus dressing.
- Sandwiches with lean meats like turkey or chicken prepared on whole wheat or whole grain bread. Use vinegar instead of mayo. Adding sliced cranberry, avocados, sweet peppers and/or fresh herbs can provide lots of variety. Think ahead tip: To avoid added salts and preservatives used in deli or prepackaged meats, roast (or buy prepared roast) or grill meats for week-ahead planning. Store in the fridge so they’re ready to go!
- Soups are a great lunch choice. Not only can you make a large batch and freeze it in portion-sized containers, you can also do an online search for diabetes-friendly recipes. Use lean meats and low- or no-sodium chicken, beef or vegetable stock and a variety of veggies and spices when making your own soup. Stay away from starchy vegetables. For instance, cauliflower makes a great, low-carb substitute for potatoes or rice.
To keep your blood sugar on an even keel, many dieticians suggest a low-carb snack between meals. The best snacks are whole, low-glycemic fruits, which are tasty and help you control your diabetes. Apples, pears, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, prunes and apricots are all excellent choices. A few suggestions:
- Consider dipping apples or pears in sugar-free peanut butter, which tastes great and makes the snack more filling.
- You can mix a little honey into your fruit. Honey sweetens without empty calories and even contains antioxidants. Just make sure to use moderate amounts of honey.
- Enjoying a handful of almonds or walnuts is another great choice when you’re looking for a filling snack that won’t impact your insulin levels.
An Enjoyable Supper
There are many great dinner choices that will help you maintain a steady insulin level and that you’ll enjoy eating:
- Mix all of your favorite veggies with some cooked brown rice together in a stir fry. Use olive oil or low-fat cooking spray and a little reduced-sodium soy sauce to flavor your stir fry.
- There’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy a few nice slices of pizza. The trick is to avoid the high fat meats typically found on pizza, replace it with chicken or veggies, and stick to a thin crust version. This is a great choice when eating out.
- Whole grain pastas make lovely dishes. Instead of coating the pasta in butter, stick to low fat parmesan cheese or low-carb sauces. An even lower carb choice is spaghetti squash, which is surprisingly versatile, and tastes great with low-sugar marinara sauce or Alfredo sauce.Prep tip: Cut off the ends of the squash, then cut in half, lengthwise. Place upside-down on a baking sheet (use no-stick spray or parchment paper). Roast in a 400° oven for about 40 minutes. Cool slightly, and then use a fork to scrape “spaghetti” out! You can also microwave a whole (uncut) spaghetti squash. Just prick the squash with a knife or skewer in 8-10 places to vent the steam and microwave on high. Depending on the size of the squash, it can take 5-25 minutes to microwave. Turn it every 5 minutes and test it with a sharp knife. When the knife slides in easily, it’s done. Cool 10 minutes before cutting in half, discarding seeds and raking out the flesh.
- Missing potatoes? An easy and satisfying substitute is cubed butternut squash, baked on a cookie sheet with olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh thyme, oregano or rosemary. Many grocers sell butternut squash already cubed and ready to bake.
As with all suggestions, remember to make smart choices around any known food allergies or sensitivities! By choosing foods with low glycemic index and dressing with healthy oils and seasonings that are low in saturated fats and sugars, you can control blood glucose levels while enjoying what you eat. Try not to skip meals, which can lead to binge-snacking and overeating. Be sure to watch portion size and read labels carefully, and your healthy eating plan can be full of texture and flavor.
Want to know more? Find helpful information and tips by visiting our “Lifestyle” section.