Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rethinking Breakfast

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals, especially if someone else cooks it for me. (I’ve always said that I should have been born rich instead of so darn good looking!) I know that a lot of PWD have trouble with spikes after breakfast and have to limit their carb intake at that time.  I personally haven’t had that issue, although there are breakfast meals that do spike my bg.  I’ve tested in the past to find out what I can and cannot eat for breakfast and, other than that, don’t pay a lot of attention to my meter at that time of day. (note: I DO plan what I’m eating based on my fasting reading.)

One thing that I have noticed is that there are days when I’m famished less than 2 hours after eating my breakfast.  If I’m not paying attention, that scenario can lead to eating more than I should and can totally muck up the rest of my day.  I decided to rethink my breakfast options and do a bit of experimenting.  Here is what I’ve found:

·       A heavier carb breakfast can leave me hungry.
·       Combining some protein with that carb breakfast helps.
·       The best breakfast I can eat to stave off hunger is one that is high in protein.

Some of you may be thinking, DUH, but hey this is about what I do and what I’ve learned.  

My sense of a breakfast over the years has revolved around cereal.  I guess that comes from my childhood.  I adore omelets but I usually don’t bother with cooking them. Cereal is so easy! For a long time I was able to eat cereal but eventually found that I was seeing spikes so I tried to find a solution.  First, I replaced my fat free milk with almond milk and that helped but wasn’t a complete success.  I won’t bore you with all the details of my quest for the perfect cereal.  Let’s just say that the only thing I found that even remotely worked for me was really high in fiber and the gas that it produced wasn’t worth it.  Therefore, quite a while ago, I gave up cold cereal.  I still miss it (but not the gas.)

Next I turned to oatmeal.  I had been eating it for a while without really taking the time to test it.  I decided to try old fashioned oats.  My research on oats tells me that, nutritionally, there isn’t much difference between quick oats, old fashioned and steel cut.  The big difference is in how quickly they are processed in our gut.  Therefore, less processed oats should take longer to hit the system.  I don’t want to wait 40 minutes to eat my oatmeal so steel cut was out and I settled on the old fashioned variety.  I proceeded to test the wazoo out of my oatmeal breakfast over the course of three days.  I tested at 1 hour and then again at 2 hours.  I had varying results but the bottom line is that oatmeal spikes me a lot at 1 hour.  I was pretty bummed about that but, because oatmeal is a healthy thing to eat, I’ve decided not to dump it completely.  I will eat it on occasion and pay attention (and definitely add some protein).

This led me to the realization that if I didn’t want to see spikes and I wanted to stave off hunger, then I needed to be eating breakfasts that are higher in protein.  Let me interject here that it is actually fats that help stave off hunger but if I eat more protein then I will be eating more fat.  I really don’t want to just eat fat for breakfast.  Yuck.  If I’m going to eat more protein, then that means I need to quit being so lazy and start cooking more often.  When I started to think about what to eat, I realized that it isn’t necessary to spend hours in order to fix a decent breakfast.  Here is what I’ve settled on as good, nutritious, easy to fix breakfasts.
  1. 1 slice rye toast, ½ C low fat cottage cheese and 2 turkey sausage links.  Total carbs – 18 g; total protein - 26 g 
  2.  Microwave omelet. This method is so easy and yummy!  I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this all along.  Take a microwave omelet pan and spray it with canola cooking spray.  Add whatever veggies/meat combo you like.  Pour in ½ C egg substitute.  Cook in the microwave for 2-3 minutes (until egg is set).  Sprinkle with cheese.  You can also use 2 real eggs if you aren’t worried about cholesterol.  I had one this morning with broccoli, olives, wee bit of ham, sprinkle of cheese and salsa.  Total carbs – 15g; total protein – 23g. 
  3.  Fried egg sandwich.  I usually make mine with a slice of cheese and some ham which would be about 22g of protein.  You can use whatever bread you choose, which will change the carb amount.  I sometimes use sandwich thins which have 22g of carbs or 1 slice of rye bread which has 11g of carbs.  
  4. And now to my absolute favorite!!  Kim at Texting My Pancreas posted a recipe for quiche that I love, love, LOVE!  You can view the recipe here.  Here is what I do: I cook the quiche in the evening, in fact, we often have it for dinner and I’ll use the leftovers for breakfast.  The quiche can be cut into 8 pieces and then you can just pop a piece in the microwave to heat it up in the morning.  SO good.  I make mine with these alterations:  I use 2% sharp cheddar cheese and add veggies like broccoli or spinach or bell peppers; whatever I have on hand that sounds good.  I also use real bacon bits.  It’s more expensive but easier for me to control the amount (and Ray doesn’t have to smell the bacon cooking). I have tried making it with eggs, egg substitute and a combination of both.  All variations are good but the texture is different with egg substitute.  (note: the change to lower fat cheese and egg substitutes is, in most part, for Ray’s heart because I love him.) Total carb for 1/8 pie – 18.75g; total protein – 12.5g.  Most of the carbs from this come from the crust (13g per serving) and the fact that I add veggies.  You could make it without the crust, I suppose, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I might also try to make it with almond milk instead of fat free and that would lower the carbs as well.
When you compare these options to the 28g of carbs in ½ cup of oatmeal or 48g of carbs in 1 cup of raisin bran, it does make a difference.  Besides, I could never eat just 1 cup of raisin bran and I’d STILL be hungry later.  When I eat one of these lower carb breakfasts, I don’t get hungry afterwards.  In fact, I’ve been known to forget that I need to eat lunch!  Now THAT is really strange for me.

As I said before, I will still eat oatmeal on occasion.  I still plan to have whole wheat pancakes now and then (but not the frozen paste I discussed here).  
More than likely I will eat those things in smaller portions as a side dish to something with protein.  I make the decision about what type of breakfast to eat based on my fasting blood sugar that morning.  I now have an arsenal of healthy foods to choose from on any given day of the week.  I hope you found these breakfasts enticing.  Feel free to add to the list by commenting below.  Bon Appetit!


  1. I gave up cold cereal a while ago... simply because like you 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup wasn't enough for me. I adopted a breakfast method that works pretty well and similar to yours. For me it was realizing that the 5-10 mins to cook breakfast was still less time than the drive thru I was doing before Dx.

    I generally eat an egg a day... fried and the cats get most of the yolk anyways (good for their coats). I add some additional protien like turkey back or my favorite - smoked salmon. I couple strawberries or half an apple. Cheese on the egg. Toasted sandwich thins with PB and a dannon light and fit yogurt. My 2hr PP number is generally lower than my fasting number, believe it or not.

    About once a week my lovely wife will make steel cut oats. We add dried fruit to the boiling water and then add a nice lump of PB and mix it all in. Sometimes I will add a small amount of low sugar jam too. This doesn't really spike me, and I can rely on a 2hr PP in the 120 range.

    For going out my wife and I generally split a breakfast. Omelet, 1/2 English muffin, and yogurt or fruit.

    I've done LOTS of testing to figure out what foods do well in my system. I to a verify on breakfast at least once a week just to make sure something didn't change on me.

    Sounds like you are on the right track, so I thought I'd chime in :)

  2. My favorite breakfast of the moment is cottage cheese, mixed with crushed pineapple (own juice), cinnamon, sweetner, and 2 T flax seed. Get a pretty good post prandial and I'm not hungry til lunch.

  3. I have been thinking that I need to wake up earlier so I can prepare a healthy breakfast that will fill me up without making my blood sugar levels spike. I'm usually pretty happy eating oatmeal (I get it at Trader Joe's, it's instant and it has flax seeds). But then I'm hungry quickly.

    The recipes look yummy!

  4. A friend, Lizmari, posted this on Facebook and I thought I'd share. Yet another cool idea for breakfast!


I truly love to receive comments from readers, however, if your comment includes a link to a website about diabetes or information on how you "cured" your diabetes, it won't be published. If your profile name links to a website about diabetes, it won't be published. If you also write a blog and would like me to include it in my blog roll, please say so in a comment and I'll do that. Thanks.