No matter what kind of diabetes you are suffering from, you should always control your blood sugar levels. To achieve it, you should have healthy breakfast every morning which is first step for you. You should have balanced meal with proper amount of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein. At the same time, it should also be high in nutrients and fiber and low in added sugar.
For diabetes, you should also consider your GI level. It is a measuring unit to determine the foods that effect blood sugar levels due to carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give you much needed energy to start the day. But it can raise blood sugar levels if it is digested too quickly. You should have foods which are low in GI index rather than those having high GI. They are slow to digest and they reduce spikes after having meals. This is something you need to consider when picking the best breakfast cereals for you.
You should know what affects the GI index of your food, such as cooking methods, processing, and type of grain used. These things affect how quickly the digestion is done. Cereals which are processed have higher GI even with having fiber in them. You can avoid blood sugar spikes by having healthy fats and protein with cereal.
A healthy breakfast always starts with whole grains. It is easy to prepare a bowl of cereal which is chosen wisely. You can find different types of cereals in grocery store aisles which can fulfill your sweet tooth but can cause spike in blood sugar. Most of the branded cereals have refined sugars and grains in ingredients. They have a lot of empty calories and only few nutrients.
Hence, you need to check labels properly. Look for cereals which have whole grains as main ingredient. Refined grains are stripped on processing so they are less healthy. Whole grains are the rich source of dietary fiber. Fiber is very important for your diet as it helps regulate blood sugar spikes and controls risk of heart disease. There are plenty of minerals and vitamins in whole grains. Here are the whole grains you can find in your breakfast cereals –
- Whole wheat flour
- Wheat bran
- Whole cornmeal
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
Steel-cut oatmeal, rolled oatmeal, and oat bran have GI of under 55, as reported by the American Diabetes Association. Quick oats have GI from 56 to 69. Instant oatmeal, corn flakes, bran flakes, and puffed rice are high in GI with up to 70. Rather than eating packaged instant cereals, make a batch of steel-cut or whole oats for week and store it in the fridge. Heat up the part for minutes in microwave every morning. This way you can have healthy cereals which are digested slowly.
Beware of Added Sugar
While checking the labels of cereal boxes, always watch out for hidden ingredients. You need to pick cereals which have 3g of fiber and not more than 6g of sugar in each serving, as per the American Diabetes Association. Sugar has plenty of names and it may show up on the list of ingredients several times.
Don’t choose the product if it has three different types of sugars listed on the top list of ingredients. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, watch out for the list of these sugars which may come up on labels –
- Brown sugar
- Agave nectar
- Cane crystals
- Corn sweetener
- Cane sugar
- Corn syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Invert sugar
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Raw sugar
Also look at the sodium level. You shouldn’t exceed 2300 mg of sodium per day, as per the reports of Mayo Clinic.
Now that you know how to choose the right cereal for you, it’s time to punch it up with some protein and nuts for additional taste and texture. Manage your blood sugar every morning by adding protein. You can also have eggs, unsweetened Greek yogurt, and other foods having healthy protein.
You can add crunch with unsalted nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans to your cereal. They have polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are both healthy for your heart. But they are a bit high in calories. So, look at the portion size.
You can add sweetness to your cereal by adding fruit on it. Keep it in your carb count if you look at carbs. You can add whole fruits to your meal, with skin on, such as berries and add more fiber to your meal.
Top your cereal with milk or its substitute to your bowl if it is suited to your diet plan. Milk has natural sugars. You can replace whole meal with skim milk to cut on calories and saturated fat. You can also switch to almond milk or soy milk if you have allergy with lactose or you don’t consume dairy milk. You can also take unsweetened soy milk which has same carbohydrate content as in cow’s milk. Unsweetened almond milk has fewer calories and carbohydrates as compared to soy or dairy milk.
You should always eat foods with low GI value, even though you are not diabetic. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends avoiding refined carbs in food as they may develop risk of type 2 diabetes.
Instead, you should rely on diet which has whole grains to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes as whole grains control blood sugar more often which adds less stress to the ability of your body to produce insulin.
Cold or hot breakfast cereals can add healthy and quick breakfast to your diet. When you are choosing cereals, pick the ones which are rich in whole grains and fiber but low in sodium, sugar, and calories. Add some amount of nuts, fruits, and other healthy toppings to your cereal with some milk or its substitute to complete your meal.
Our Verdict – Do’s and Don’ts
- Add proteins and nuts to your cereals for texture and taste
- Pick cereals rich in whole grains, such as steel-cut oatmeal, rolled oatmeal, and rolled bran
- Don’t choose cereals with high GI value, such as puffed rice, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, and bran flakes
- Avoid cereals which have sugars and refined grains in top of the list of ingredients