Mornings can be a whirlwind. When you’re trying to get your family—and yourself—out the door, sometimes getting a healthy breakfast just isn’t a priority, even if you know it should be. In fact, you might be tempted to skip your morning meal, or grab not-so-healthy snacks like pastries that don’t necessarily amount to a healthy breakfast for people living with type 2 diabetes.
If you’ve been known to skip breakfast or make less than healthy food choices when you’re in a hurry, know this: Even when things get busy, you can find healthy, easy foods to start your morning. It may just take a little planning, a dash of creativity, and a taste for trying new things.
Why You Need Breakfast
A healthy breakfast is an essential part of your daily nutrition—and depending on what you eat, it may help you keep hunger cravings at bay and assist in weight management. But it can help control your blood sugar, too.
Rethinking the Typical American Breakfast
To make the most of those health benefits, there are ample wholesome foods that give you a variety of nutrients. But it can be tough to find them, since many options in restaurants and grocery stores may not be as healthy as you need them to be.
Imagine, for example, a typical American breakfast from your neighborhood diner. You might be thinking of a pile of pancakes, bacon, or muffins. Unfortunately, these very food items can contain unhealthy amounts of not-so-good things, like sugar and saturated fat.
Or, if you grab something from a drive-thru, you might think a breakfast sandwich packs in all the right makings of a hefty meal. As it turns out, these foods are frozen before they get to you, which means you can’t control the ingredients.
How to Build a Better Breakfast
With all those unhealthy choices, finding a well-balanced breakfast may seem complicated. It’s enough to make your head spin, right? Rest assured, there are plenty of healthy options around if you know where to look—from good-for-you choices that you can order from a menu to recipes to cook at home to grab-and-go foods to fuel your morning routine.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends picking a variety of choices from many different food groups. They also offer a few guidelines:
1. Watch your carb intake, but include fiber.
Breakfast foods tend to have lots of carbohydrates, so check with your doctor or nutritionist to see what a good target is for you so that you don’t overdo it. On the other hand, high-fiber options like oatmeal, seeds, and beans can help keep you feel full and control your blood sugar.
2. Cut out the sweets.
Many morning foods like cereals, granola bars, and muffins have extra sugar, which can affect your blood glucose. Stick to less than 5 grams of added sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving whenever possible—or get your sweet fix from whole fresh fruit.
3. Pick good fats.
Fats may help keep hunger at bay, but it’s important to pick healthy unsaturated fats, like seeds, avocado toast, or nut butters, when possible.
4. Eat lean proteins.
Protein can come from items like Greek yogurt or peanut butter and may help fill you up and keep hunger and cravings away. Sausage made from turkey or chicken can be a great lean protein option, too.
5. Get in your veggies.
The ADA recommends filling half of your mealtime plates with nonstarchy vegetables, so why not start at breakfast? Consider adding colorful foods like peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes to freshen up dishes like breakfast burritos and frittatas.
6. Test your cooking skills.
The ADA has a whole hub of delicious breakfast dishes you can print out or save to an online recipe box. To help you reach your nutrition goals, each one includes nutrition facts—and the recipes don’t disappoint! You’ll find tasty items like smoothies, huevos rancheros and breakfast bowls, to name a few.
7. Make it portable.
Combine all the goodness of a wholesome breakfast to go! Try make-ahead, freezable meals like overnight oats or zucchini muffins that you can cook in big batches for a quick option in the morning. Start with a clear plan: search through recipes, make a grocery list, and head to a grocery store to buy everything all at once for a big cooking marathon!
8. Dine out wisely.
When you’re having breakfast outside the house, search for menu options that make the most of the food groups. For example, look for meals that offer lots of fruits and veggies and don’t be afraid to ask the waiter if you can make substitutions, like requesting a side of seasonal vegetables instead of home fries or hash browns.
What Sounds Good to You?
Putting together a healthy breakfast can be a matter of simple, easy combinations. Get inspired with these ideas that mix and match the recommendations above:
- A breakfast burrito made with scrambled eggs or egg whites, tomato salsa, sautéed peppers, and onions
- A smoothie made with frozen fruit and low-fat milk, almond milk, or plain yogurt
- A frittata full of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, or other vegetables
- Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit or nuts
- Whole wheat toast with peanut butter or avocado
- Oatmeal with fresh fruit
Start planning your breakfast for tomorrow morning, and see for yourself just how big of a difference a healthy start can make on your day.