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Healthy swaps: breakfast


A healthy, satisfying breakfast can make a big difference. But some traditional breakfast foods are packed with sugar and fats. We've come up with some simple swaps and ideas for breakfasts for diabetes, so you can take charge of your diabetes and start your day the right way.

Cereal switches 

Although the packaging may make some cereals - like granola and cereal clusters - appear healthy, they are often full of added sugars (also known as free sugars) and unhealthy fat. Some children's cereals also have a lot of free sugar. Instead, why not switch to porridge? Porridge oats or the instant variety are both fine - just avoid those with added free sugars like honey and golden syrup. Wheat biscuits, shredded wheat or muesli (with no added sugar) are also great alternatives. For sweetness, add chopped fruit.

When buying cereal, the best thing to do is look at the 'front of pack' label, and try to go for cereal with as many green lights as possible. But also check the ingredients list, some newer versions of granola simple have nuts added in. A great source of unsaturated fat and fibre. Yogurt can be a tasty alternative to cereal, but many yogurts are high in free sugar. So why not try making your own flavoured yogurt? Buy unsweetened Greek or natural yogurt, or fromage frais. You can add fresh fruit and a few nuts, or seeds for some extra flavour.

Tips for healthy breakfasts for diabetes:

  • Switch from white toast to wholegrain versions like seeded batch bread, multi-seed, granary, soya and linseed. These are better for your diabetes and digestive health. They're more filling, too.
  • If you’re making rotis and chapattis, use wholewheat flour.
  • Instead of jam try mashed banana. Other healthy choices are low-fat cheese, cottage cheese with a couple of fresh chopped dates, or nut butter (make sure the one you buy doesn't have any additions like sugar or palm oil) and chopped banana.
  • Try to keep croissants, pastries and muffins as an occasional treat.
  • Try to limit the amount of oil when cooking. Cook with unsaturated vegetable oils, such as sunflower, olive or rapeseed, instead of butter or ghee.
  • Add extra fruit and veg to bump up your fibre intake wherever you can. Add berries, dried fruit or half a banana to your cereal, or grilled tomatoes to eggs on toast.
  • When you have a bit of time to spare, try making this breakfast crostini. That way everyone can tuck in.
  • Choose roasted mudhi or chuda (puffed rice) with vegetables, instead of chudha upma with oil.
  • Try dry roasted methi paratha instead of aloo paratha.
  • Try rice, besan or oat cheela with dry fried vegetables.

Can people with diabetes eat eggs?

Yes, people with diabetes can eat eggs. They provide us with protein and other important nutrients, so make sure to check our recipes for inspiration and ideas. You should be eating some food from the protein group as part of your healthy, balanced diet.  

Although some people may have concerns about incorporating eggs into their diet, research shows that the cholesterol in eggs does not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in your blood. 

Diabetic breakfast
Try our recipe for kedgeree for a savoury treat

Savoury breakfasts

We should all try and reduce our intake of red and processed meat, and instead use oily fish such as heart-protecting salmon or kippers. They're delicious served with scrambled egg, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and wholegrain toast. Or why not try veggie sausages (just check the salt content). It's OK to have an occasional sausage or rasher of bacon, but try grilling instead of frying and remove any visible fat. 

You could also try topping wholegrain toast with scrambled egg or egg bhurji, avocado, cottage cheese with edamame beans and tomatoes, or grilled tomatoes and mushrooms.

Breakfast drinks

Even pure fruit juices and smoothies contain free sugars, and it's easy to consume a lot in one go. It's better to eat whole fruit and veg, but if you do have a juice or smoothie, limit the portion to 150ml once a day and try making your own. 

If you're buying coffee on the go, be on the lookout for added syrups and purees, which contain a lot of free sugars. If you're not sure, ask the server to tell you what ingredients are used in your favourite drink. 

Breakfasts for diabetes when you're on the go

Diabetic breakfast
These breakfast burritos are a great way to have a tasty breakfast you can make the night before

If you read our rundown of breakfast cereal bars and biscuits, you'll see cereal bars aren't always as healthy as they appear. For a better breakfast snack on the go, grab some fresh fruit and a handful of nuts instead. Combine it with a glass of semi or skimmed milk to keep hydrated and get essential calcium for your bones and teeth.

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