What can I eat for breakfast?

Patient Expert

When you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and especially when you go on a low-carbohydrate diet, choosing a breakfast that won’t make your blood glucose levels go high is difficult at first.

That’s because most typical American breakfasts are loaded with carbs with very little protein and fat to slow the digestion down. Think of orange juice, toast and jam, breakfast cereals, and skim milk.

Many of us don’t think of skim milk as being a high-carb food, but 1 cup of milk contains about 11 grams of carbohydrate. I know someone who uses skim milk as a good way of bringing her blood glucose up when she goes low, because she’s found that it works faster than other things she’s tried. This is probably in part because liquid foods leave the stomach faster than solid foods.

So if the standard American breakfast is a carbohydrate feast, what can we do to eat a breakfast more in line with our blood glucose goals?

The first step is to stop thinking that we have to eat special “breakfast food” for breakfast. Why is it that we think ham is OK for breakfast but lamb chops are not? Dump that notion, and things will get easier.

I’ve actually been eating this way since long before I was diagnosed with diabetes. I remember my first non-breakfast-food breakfast: lamb chops and broccoli. When I sat down to eat it, I got the giggles. It just seemed too ridiculous. Now it’s routine.

I try to eat some protein with every meal, but I don’t worry about fat. Here is a list of some of the things I eat for breakfast on my low-carb diet:

  • Bacon and eggs. This makes a good breakfast, but I get tired of it every day.
  • Some kind of omelet. You can vary the ingredients, using cheese or leftover vegetables, so you don’t get tired of this.
  • Dinner leftovers. This is my favorite breakfast because it’s fast and different almost every day. Just put the leftovers on a microwaveable plate and zap.
  • Cheese melted on top of low-carb wraps or pita bread. This doesn’t work if you’re gluten-sensitive, because low-carb bread has even more gluten than regular bread, and I try not to eat this often.
  • Leftover low-carb vegetables with cheese melted on top. This is a good substitute for the wrap if you’re gluten-sensitive.
  • Tofu shirataki noodles with cooked vegetables and cheese melted on top.* ** A breakfast drink** made from 1 cup coffee or water, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and sweetener to taste Making this is a little work, and it does raise my blood glucose a bit, so I don’t eat it often. But if you need to grab something to eat and run out the door, you could make a batch before you went to bed.
  • Cereal made with 1 tablespoon freshly ground flaxseed, or unground chia, and 1 tablespoon wheat bran (or another bran). Add boiling water and sweetener of your taste, with a little heavy cream on top. When I travel, I make up a supply of this along with the sweetener, and if I’m somewhere that has only carby stuff for breakfast, I can just use the hot water or even hot coffee to make it, and then add the half and half they provide for coffee. If they have some berries, I’ll add those.
  • Cereal made with unsweetened coconut and ground nuts, with heavy cream or coconut or almond or other low-carb milk. This is good if I have a craving for cold breakfast cereal, which doesn’t happen often.
  • Low-carb pancakes. Recipe here.
  • Low-carb muffins with peanut butter. There are many recipes for low-carb muffins on the internet, and most are very fast. High-fiber crispbreads can also be used.

What do you eat for breakfast?

Other useful posts about the “breakfast problem”

Breakfast and BG Levels  [Since writing that post I’ve found you can download a document I cited here. The pdf version shows the tables well.]

Seventeen Years with Type 2 Diabetes