September celebrates “Better Breakfast Month!” This month of observance actually originated during WWI when the U.S. government began encouraging citizens to focus on eating a better breakfast. The word breakfast quite literally means breaking your fast after sleeping all night. It’s often touted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this phrase can carry even more value when you have diabetes. Breakfast helps stabilize blood glucose, stave off hunger, and sets the tone for your day’s food intake. A balanced breakfast should include protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
Let’s examine how to start your day with best breakfast for your body:
- Have a plan- Plan your breakfast the night before or even create a weekly meal plan for your breakfasts. This will help keep you on track and prevent you from just grabbing a coffee on your way out the door or stopping at a drive-thru for convenience.
- Carve out time- Set your alarm an extra ten minutes ahead of schedule if you know you typically don’t have enough time to enjoy your breakfast. Slow down, be mindful of enjoying your food. Chewing should be intentional as it aids in digestion – carbohydrates begin the digestion process in the mouth. Oftentimes we forget that chewing our food properly is quite important because it allows our brain to send signals to salivary glands to secrete extra saliva and for our stomach to release stomach acid which are both vital to proper digestion.
- Know your body’s macronutrient needs- Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Work with a registered dietitian to tailor your meals to your needs and your diabetes. This will help you in deciding which foods will best suit your meal plan.
- Carbohydrates provide long-lasting fuel for every cell in the body. Carbohydrates are also a source of fiber which not only fills you up, it also helps lower cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugars and promotes bowel regularity. Examples include whole grain toast/bagel/wrap, oats/oatmeal, whole grain cereal, sweet potato.
- Protein:help maintain muscle mass and provides building blocks for our DNA; they also sustain feeling full. Examples include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese eggs, cheese, milk (dairy or soy), protein powder, hemp hearts. Read more about how protein affects blood glucose here.
- Healthy fats: help with feeling full and satisfied and stabilize blood glucose. Examples include nut butter, avocado, nuts, seeds, various oils (e.g., olive oil and coconut oil)
- Balanced breakfast examples
- Oatmeal or yogurt + fruit + flax or chia seeds
- Whole grain toast + peanut butter + banana
- Whole grain toast + avocado + egg
- Potato + vegetable + egg hash
- Chia Seed “pudding”: Milk of choice + chia seeds + toppings like nuts/seeds/fruit
- Smoothie made with a protein (protein powder/cottage cheese/milk) and a fat
- Breakfast burritos
There are so many ways to create a healthy breakfast. Starting your day with the right “bites” will not only assist your body in regulating blood sugars and hunger/satiety hormones but it also sets the tone mentally for how your eating habits will unfold that day. Here’s to a better breakfast month!