You have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast, as the name implies, is to break the fast between dinner and lunch.
It is well-established that starting the day with a wholesome breakfast can benefit everyone. If you have type 2 diabetes (T2D), breakfast is necessary and it can have real benefits.
Do you think that skipping breakfast can help manage your blood glucose better? Researchers say the opposite is true. In a study, 22 people who controlled their T2D with diet alone or diet plus metformin were studied on two different days. On one, they ate three identical meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On the other, they ate only lunch and dinner. On the days they skipped breakfast, their peak blood glucose was 36.8 per cent higher after lunch and 26.6 per cent higher after dinner than on the days they ate breakfast.
Another study highlighted that a high-energy intake breakfast of around 700 kcals (vs a low energy breakfast of 200 kcals) decreased the overall high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) in T2D patients over the entire day. It has been established that better management of blood sugar has been associated with preventing complications of diabetes.
Regular consumption of breakfast is potentially important for preventing T2D. A recent study tested 17 healthy adults on three separate days: Once when they skipped breakfast, once when they had three regular meals and once when they skipped dinner. Skipping breakfast led to higher glucose concentrations after lunch than skipping dinner.
The key to a healthy morning meal is to choose a variety of foods to get a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and other nutrients like vitamins and minerals - along with the much-needed fibre that helps manage blood-sugar levels. Here are some options to consider:
Whole grains: Oatmeal, muesli with no added sugar, wheat flakes with added bran, whole-wheat daliya/chapatti/khakhra/paratha/ bread, whole grain millet (ragi, jowar, bajra) preparations. Whole grains are a good source of carbohydrates (including fibre), vitamins and minerals.
Dairy: Use non-fat or low-fat milk instead of whole milk. If you don't drink milk, try non-dairy milk alternatives like soy, almond, coconut milk, etc. Choose plain rather than sweetened versions.
Fruits and vegetables: Fresh fruit is a great addition to any breakfast given that they provide fibre, vitamins and minerals. However, limit fruit juice. Vegetables (like carrot, French beans, capsicum, leafy greens like palak, methi, etc.) can be added to all the traditional breakfast foods.
Lean protein: Protein foods may help control hunger, manage blood sugar and maintain lean body mass; so include protein at breakfast. Sources of protein include low fat milk/curd/yoghurt/paneer/cottage cheese, eggs, tofu, whole pulses like moong, channa, vatana, rajma, etc., and split pulses, which are all the dals.
Healthy fat: Fat can help you feel full but it is important to choose wisely. Go for nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocados, etc., in small to moderate amounts.