After my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, we had to relearn how to cook and eat. Knowledge equals power.
Much more thought goes into meal-planning since my husband's diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. While he still likes to get up and enjoy a cup of coffee before eating breakfast, that first meal of the day has become essential in maintaining his blood sugar control throughout the day.
The goal now is to find the right balance between protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. We also seek foods high in fiber and nutrients while avoiding too many added sugars.
What Can Diabetics Eat for Breakfast?
There is a well-known adage stating we should "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." We do not always follow that pattern, but it is a worthy goal.
Researchers have conducted many studies about people with diabetes who skip breakfast versus those who don't. Studies have examined the types of food eaten and the size of the meal. Many of these studies conclude that eating more protein such as eggs can positively affect glucose levels throughout the balance of the day.
Beyond eggs, some lean cuts of meat, fish, beans, and nuts provide beneficial proteins. Nuts are also a healthy fat, along with avocados and oils like olive oil. Whole grains and oats plus non-starchy vegetables are always good choices, along with berries like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
In This Article
- 10 healthy diabetic breakfast ideas
- Diabetic-friendly breakfast cereals
- Breakfast tips for type 2 diabetes
- List of foods diabetics can eat freely
10 Easy Diabetic Breakfast Ideas
Here's a sneak peek of the recipes you will find in this article. I hope that you find some good ideas for ones you may wish to make at home.
- Plain Greek Yogurt, Fresh Blueberries, and Walnuts
- Mushrooms, Green Onion, and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Frittata
- Oatmeal Bowl With Strawberries, Greek Yogurt, and Hard-Boiled Egg
- Huevos Rancheros
- Baked Egg and Spinach Casserole
- Peach, Blueberry, Probiotic Granola, and Nonfat Yogurt Bowl
- Omelet With Roasted Vegetables
- Breakfast Sandwich With Natural Lavash Roll-Ups Flax Bread
- Low-Carb Cottage Cheese Pancakes
- Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Wraps
1. Plain Greek Yogurt, Fresh Blueberries, and Walnuts
There has been a bumper crop of fresh blueberries this year, and we have been purchasing them in our grocery stores at $1.55 for 18 ounces. Usually, they are much more expensive. Thus, we have been feasting upon them!
We often start our days with some Greek yogurt and fresh or frozen berries. At a 3/4 cup measurement, Greek yogurt has 8 grams (3% daily value) of carbohydrates and a whopping 17% (34% daily value) of protein. An entire cup of fresh blueberries has 20 carbs (8% daily value), and seven walnut halves have less than two carbs per serving and slightly more protein. It only takes a few minutes to assemble, and this breakfast is delicious, healthy, and under 300 calories.
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 7 walnut halves
- Measure the yogurt and place it in the center of a serving bowl.
- Wash the blueberries and position them around the yogurt.
- Distribute the walnuts evenly around the mixture for the best visual effect.
- Eat and enjoy!
Read More From Delishably
2. Frittata With Mushrooms, Green Onion, and Sharp Cheddar Cheese
This tasty and low-carb frittata is garnished with grape tomatoes and chopped fresh parsley. The amounts shown below make two servings.
Theoretically, frittatas should finish cooking in the oven. During the summer, when the air-conditioning is working overtime, I avoid using our oven as much as possible. Instead, I place a see-through cover over the pan to finish cooking the frittatas I make using our stovetop.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2/3 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 halved grape tomatoes, for garnish
- In a non-stick pan, add the olive oil, and when the pan is heated, add the chopped green onions and mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until they are softened.
- Add the beaten eggs, top with the shredded cheese, half of the parsley, salt, and pepper (to taste), and cover the pan.
- Cook the egg mixture over medium heat for approximately 4 to 5 minutes. You will know when the frittata is ready to serve when the eggs are not only set, but the frittata has puffed up. Remove from the pan.
- To top the frittata, add the reserved parsley and the tomatoes to the plate. Add additional ground pepper if you like.
3. Oatmeal Bowl With Strawberries, Greek Yogurt, and Hard-Boiled Egg
The amounts shown below are for two servings. We like the Blue Diamond Almond Breeze brand of almond milk. It is rich in vitamins D, E, and calcium, and contains only 30 calories per cup.
In combination with the other ingredients, this low-calorie breakfast meal is low on carbs, high in protein, and loaded with vitamin C and other valuable nutrients. It is a great way to start the day!
- 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- Dash of salt (optional)
- 1 1/3 cups of strawberries, washed and sliced
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 eggs, hard-boiled and cut in half
- Ground pepper (optional)
- Bring the milk and salt to a boil, and stir in the oats.
- Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir occasionally.
- Divide and put the cooked oatmeal into two serving bowls.
- Divide and arrange the strawberries, yogurt, and eggs around it.
- Top the halved eggs with ground pepper, if desired, and serve.
4. Huevos Rancheros
Our diets include eating many eggs. They contain many vitamins along with other beneficial nutrients beneficial to good health. At only 70 calories per egg, they provide one of the highest quality protein sources available to us and are easily digestible.
A sunny-side up egg sits atop a corn tortilla embellished with refried black beans and cheese in this delicious Mexican-inspired entree. Salsa and extra jalapeños perk up the flavor profile. In our working days, this meal was often a weekend brunch treat. Now, we can have it anytime we wish. It makes a good breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even suppertime tasty meal.
This savory dish contains valuable proteins, healthy carbs, and the fat from the avocado is monounsaturated, which is the best kind to consume. By my estimates, the total calorie count is under 400 calories. If you have a busy day planned, this hearty meal will keep you satiated for hours!
- 1 corn tortilla
- 1/4 cup refried black beans
- 1 slice Tillamook Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 egg
- Pam cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons Pace Picante Sauce
- 3 slices pickled jalapeños, or more to taste
- 1/4 medium avocado, sliced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the tortilla on a serving plate and heat in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it.
- After warming a 16-ounce can of refried black beans (thinned with 1/4 cup of water) in a microwave-safe dish for about 2 minutes, put 1/4 cup of the warmed beans on top of the tortilla.
- Place the slice of cheese on top of the beans and cover the plate. Microwave for 25 seconds until the cheese melts.
- In a nonstick pan sprayed with Pam, cook the egg sunny-side up for about 2 minutes, until done. Place the egg on top of the melted cheese.
- Dollop 2 tablespoons of picante sauce over the top of the eggs, and add the pickled jalapeños.
- Garnish the plate with avocado slices. Salt and pepper it to taste, and enjoy!
5. Baked Egg and Spinach Casserole
One of our neighbors introduced us to this tasty breakfast casserole. We liked it and asked for the recipe. She made some changes from the original recipe, and I made some additional ones. You can easily adjust the number of eggs, switch out the cheeses, use onions in place of the shallot, and use seasonings to your liking. This casserole would also make a great lunch or supper entree.
The recipe makes nine portions. By my estimate, each serving has about 260 calories with a favorable protein-carbohydrate balance. It is higher in fat than many other recipes because of the cheese and butter, but it is oh-so-delicious! You can substitute low-fat cheese and use a low or no trans fat margarine if desired.
It keeps well for days in the refrigerator, or you can wrap and freeze it for future use. Merely thaw it ahead of time if frozen and reheat it in the microwave.
- 10 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 3/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
- 9 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups cheddar jack cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pam cooking spray
- Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl to combine well and pour into an 8-inch by 8-inch pan that has been sprayed with Pam.
- Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes.
- Slice into portions and serve.
6. Peach, Blueberry, Probiotic Granola, and Nonfat Yogurt Bowl
The season to harvest peaches is relatively short, so we always try to enjoy the seasonality of this flavorful fruit. This breakfast bowl is not only colorful but is low in calories and high in fiber. It has a moderate amount of protein. The addition of a hard-boiled egg or Greek yogurt in place of plain yogurt would boost the protein value.
My husband loves the flavor of the Nature's Path Organic Ancient Grains Probiotic Granola that we purchase at Costco. When comparing the nutrients to other cereals like Kellogg's All-Bran Original or oatmeal, serving sizes vary. It is always important to read those nutrition fact labels. By cutting back on the serving size, he can still enjoy the crunch and flavor.
- 1 medium peach, cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup Ancient Grains Probiotic Granola (Nature's Path Organic brand)
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- Wash the peach, cut it up, and place it into a bowl.
- Rinse the blueberries and add them to the bowl.
- Top with granola and yogurt.
7. Omelet With Roasted Vegetables
By roasting the vegetables ahead of time, this two-egg omelet took only a couple of minutes to prepare. This meal is full of protein and healthy vegetables and is low in calories. You could make it a three-egg omelet and even add some cheese if desired.
Roasting vegetables is so easy! Cut up the veggies, toss with some olive oil, and bake in a 400°F oven for 40 minutes or until roasted to your desired taste. I like them when they become caramelized. I used zucchini, yellow squash, onion, grape tomatoes, red and green sweet peppers in my latest batch with some garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of roasted vegetables
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parsley (optional garnish)
- Pam cooking spray
- Scramble the eggs in a bowl.
- Heat the roasted vegetables in a microwave until hot. Set aside.
- Spray a nonstick 8-inch pan with Pam. Heat the pan on the stove over medium-high heat. When heated, pour in the eggs.
- As soon as you can, with a flexible spatula, flip the just-set eggs to the other side for 10 seconds or less. This entire process will take less than 1 minute. Remove to a heated plate. With two eggs, this omelet is thin and crepe-like in appearance.
- Place the roasted veggies onto one side of the cooked eggs, fold over, place your optional parsley, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and enjoy.
8. Breakfast Sandwich With Natural Lavash Roll-Ups Flax Bread
We purchase this brand of flax bread from Costco, made by Damascus Bakeries. While many people use it for roll-ups, we use it for all kinds of sandwiches in place of bread. One perforated piece is only 80 calories, has 11 grams of carbohydrates (4%), 7 grams of protein, and a whopping 6 grams (24% daily need) of fiber!
This breakfast sandwich is a delicious low carbohydrate protein-packed meal coming in, by my calculations, at around 314 calories. I combined the flax bread with cheese, lean ham, sliced tomato, and a fried egg.
- 1 perforated piece of Natural Lavash Roll-Ups Flax Bread
- 1 slice Monterrey Jack cheese
- 1 medium slice lean ham
- 1 egg, yolk broken and fried hard
- 1 medium tomato, sliced
- Pam cooking spray
- Put the slice of cheese on one end of the flax bread, and the ham on the other end. Place it in a toaster oven and heat just until the cheese starts to melt and the ham is warmed. (You want the bread to remain flexible and not hard and cracker-like). Remove from the oven to a plate.
- While the items are being heated in the oven, fry the egg in Pam until hard and firm. Place onto the sandwich.
- Slice a tomato and add this to the sandwich.
- Fold over and serve.
9. Low-Carb Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Christel Oerum has learned to live with her diabetes and has a website (Diabetes Strong) devoted to sharing healthful recipes. I am pleased to report that this low-carb cottage cheese recipe is not only delicious but is so easy to prepare in only a matter of minutes. Be sure to click on the links below to see her photos and serving suggestions.
I used half the amount of stevia in her recipe and sliced and partially macerated some strawberries to serve with the pancakes. The combination is scrumptious! The amount shown below makes one serving.
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar substitute
- Pam cooking spray
- 2/3 cup strawberries, sliced
- Put the cottage cheese and egg whites into a blender, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth.
- Onto a heated pan sprayed with Pam, add the pancake batter, and fry over medium heat on both sides until golden and cooked.
- Serve with the strawberries or your choice of accompaniment.
10. Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Wraps
A classic breakfast or brunch recipe is a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Those bagel carbs can quickly add up! Christel Oerum, of the website Diabetes Strong, has lightened her recipe using a low-carb tortilla and has made it into a wrap. This one portion meal is filling and so satisfying. My only deviation from her recipe was in using pickled red onions in place of the raw. I can envision using other ingredients to make more of these low-carb wraps, and I'll bet you can also, after reading this recipe.
- 1 (8-inch) low-carb flour tortilla
- 2 ounces smoked salmon
- 2 teaspoons low-fat cream cheese
- 1 1/4 ounces pickled red onion
- Handful of arugula
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chiffonade
- Ground pepper, to taste (optional)
- Spread the cream cheese over the tortilla and add the rest of the ingredients.
- Roll tightly, slice in half, and serve.
Diabetic-Friendly Breakfast Cereals
If you don’t have time to pull together a full breakfast, many healthful kinds of cereal exist that people with diabetes can eat. Below are a few suggested ones. Most of these are low in sugar and high in fiber. Be sure to check those nutrition fact labels to check for serving size. You might be surprised at just how many are available!
In addition to cereals, there are many healthful breakfast bars. They are perfect for those grab-and-go moments.
- Kodiak Carb-Conscious Oatmeal (Maple Almond): 1 packet contains 170 calories, 17 net carbs, and 12 grams of protein. There are many other flavor choices for this brand of cereal.
- Whole Grain Cheerios: 3/4 of a cup contains 140 calories, 29 carbs, and 5 grams of protein.
- Quaker Grits Quick 5-Minute: 1/4 of a cup contains 130 calories, 29 total carbs, and 3 grams of protein.
- Kind Cereal (Cinnamon Almond): 3/4 of a cup contains 230 calories, 35 carbs, and 10 grams of protein. There are many other flavor choices.
- Kashi Go: 1 cup contains 150 calories, 19 carbs, and 12 grams of protein.
- Catalina Crunch Cinnamon Toast Keto-Friendly Cereal: 1/2 of a cup contains 110 calories, 14 carbs, and 11 grams of protein.
- Kellogg’s All-Bran Original: 2/3 of a cup contains 120 calories, 32 grams of total carbs, and 5 grams of protein.
- Nature’s Path Organic Whole O’s: 1 cup contains 160 calories, 33 grams of total carbs, and 4 grams of protein.
Breakfast Tips for Type 2 Diabetes
- Don't skip breakfast! The main thing to do is never skip breakfast. It is best to eat meals and snacks at regular times each day.
- Variety and portions: People with diabetes should eat a variety of foods and watch portion sizes.
- Fiber and monosaturated fats: Increase the amount of fiber in one's diet and increase monounsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocado, olives, and seeds.
- Lean meats and fish: Include lean meats and fish in one's diet.
- Bread: Recommendations for bread include those made with a minimum of saturated fat like whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel, oatmeal, enriched white, flax, whole-grain English muffins, bagels, and pita bread.
- Fruits and vegetables: All varieties of fruits and vegetables, as long as there is no sugar added, are good choices. These include fresh, frozen, or canned.
- Dairy: Dairy products should be low-fat varieties as a general rule. These nutrition basics are good rules for almost everyone to follow.
What Foods Can Diabetics Eat Freely?
The American Diabetes Association, along with the American Dietetic Association, have devised a listing of foods on their Diabetic Exchange List. Foods are measured and weighed and fall into categories. It makes it easy to determine what comprises a standard serving size. On that list, you can compare gram amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Calories are also a part of that list, and which foods contain more fiber.
Also on that list are so-called free foods that have fewer than 20 calories per serving. Here is a sample list of unlimited items from which you may choose:
- Unsweetened coffee or tea
- Carbonated water or sugar-free carbonated drinks
- Broth or bouillon, fat-free and low sodium
- Hard, sugar-free candies
2 or 3 servings a day (1 cup, raw) can come from this sample list of foods:
Check out the source links below. From diabetes nutritionist Julie Cunningham you will see an even more comprehensive listing of items people can eat freely throughout the day. There is no need for someone with diabetes ever to feel hungry throughout the day!
American Diabetes Association: Recipes & Nutrition
American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association: The Diabetic Exchange List
Diabetes Self-Management: The Importance of Breakfast for Diabetics
Diabetes Strong: Low-Carb Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Diabetes Strong: Salmon and Cream Cheese Wraps
Healthline: 10 Best Breakfast Foods for People With Diabetes
Incredible Egg Organization: Egg Composition and Nutrition
The Institute for Natural Healing: Here’s Why You Should Eat Breakfast Like a King, Dinner Like a Pauper
Julie Cunningham, Registered Dietitian: What Foods Can Diabetics Eat Freely?
Science Daily: Eggs for Breakfast Benefits Those With Diabetes
Very Well Fit: Egg Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Very Well Health: What to Eat for Breakfast When You Have Diabetes
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Peggy Woods