Weekly Breakfast Menu for Carb-Conscious Diabetics

By Sherri Shafer

Breakfast is an important meal. During sleep the liver releases glucose that was previously stored. By morning, the glucose reserves are low and it is time to “break the fast.” You need nutrition to function at your best. The menus here are designed to illustrate how to achieve variety in breakfast food choices, yet consistency in carb intake. You also find tips for customizing a healthy breakfast even more to your liking.

Here are seven menu choices for breakfasts, each with three carb-range options. Carb and calorie counts are noted for each menu. The main carb-containing foods are identified in bold font, and the grams of fiber have been subtracted from the total carb count. The portion sizes in the base menus provide 30–45 grams of carb per meal. Tips for incremental carb portion add-ons boost the carb count to achieve 45–60 grams of carb and 60–75 grams of carb.

If you aren’t much of a breakfast person, at least have one portion of a carb-containing food, roughly 15 grams of carb, such as a container of yogurt, a small piece of fruit, or a slice of toast. People who skip breakfast are at risk for overeating later in the day. Blood-glucose control is improved by distributing carb intake between three main meals, roughly four to six hours apart (small snacks are optional).

Just as eating too little in the morning can be detrimental, so is eating too much. Before overeating in the morning, consider this: Natural hormonal surges known as the “dawn phenomenon” can increase insulin resistance in the morning, causing some people with diabetes to wake up with a higher fasting blood-glucose level than desired. The morning meal choices matter, because if you eat too much carbohydrate, your blood-glucose levels will likely spike, and that is especially true if the carb choices are sweet or refined. Picking healthy foods helps. (So does a walk after breakfast!)

Breakfast Menus BASE MENU 30–45 Grams Carb per Meal 45–60 Grams Carb per Meal 60–75 Grams Carb per Meal Healthy Tips and Options
Monday

Old fashioned oats

1 cup cooked oatmeal

1 tablespoon raisins

4 ounces 1% milk

1 egg, any style

Total: 37 grams carb

310 calories

To the base menu add:

1 tablespoon raisins

Total: 45 grams carb

342 calories

To the base menu add:

1 tablespoon raisins

+

1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 teaspoon butter

Total: 61 grams carb

466 calories

Avoid sweetened versions of oatmeal.

Use plain, old-fashioned, or steel-cut oats. The more fiber, the better. It’s okay to add sugar substitute and cinnamon.

If desired, add 4 walnut halves (adds 52 calories and no carbs).

Tuesday

On-the-go

1 slice whole-wheat toast

1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter

1 extra-small banana or average-size banana

Total: 33 grams carb

246 calories

To the base menu add:

1 cup 1% milk

Total: 45 grams carb

351 calories

To the base menu add:

1 cup 1% milk

+

1 slice whole-wheat toast

+

1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter

Total: 63 grams carb

537 calories

You can use any nut butter: soy, cashew, sesame, or sunflower.

Optional: Use calcium- fortified, nondairy milk replacements, including soy or rice milk. Check labels for carb and calorie info.

Take the toast to-go, making a peanut-butter/banana toasted sandwich.

Wednesday

Keeping it simple

1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese

3/4 cup cut pineapple

1/2 whole-grain English muffin with 1 teaspoon butter

Total: 30 grams carb

260 calories

To the base menu add:

1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese

1/2 whole-grain English muffin with 1 teaspoon butter

Total: 45 grams carb

463 calories

To the base menu add:

1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese

1/2 whole-grain English muffin with 1 teaspoon butter

+

Latte made with 10 ounces 1% milk

Total: 60 grams carb

582 calories

Choose nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese.

1 cup melon, cantaloupe, or honeydew can be used instead of pineapple.

Thursday

Breakfast burrito

1 medium 8-inch whole wheat flour tortilla

1/2 cup beans

1 egg, scrambled

2 tablespoons salsa

1 tablespoon light sour cream

Total: 40 grams carb

349 calories

To the base menu add:

1/2 cup diced potato, cooked

Total: 55 grams carb

417 calories

To the base menu add:

1/2 cup diced potato, cooked

+

Small orange

Total: 64 grams carb

462 calories

Use beans of your choice, such as pinto or black.

Add chopped jalapeño peppers or green chilies if desired.

Add chopped lettuce if desired.

Check labels for carb and calorie info as tortillas vary.

Friday

Broiled bagel breakfast

1/2 large whole-grain bagel, lightly toasted

1 slice tomato

1 slice of cheese (about an ounce)

1 slice Canadian bacon (about an ounce)

Total: 30 grams carb

306 calories

To the base menu add:

Just double all portions in the base menu using both halves of the bagel.

Total: 60 grams carb

612 calories

To the base menu add:

Just double all portions in the base menu using both halves of the bagel.

+

1 small apple, sliced

Total: 75 grams carb

672 calories

Assemble the ingredients with the cheese on top; bake or broil until melted.

Replace the Canadian bacon with smoked salmon, if desired.

Use low-fat cheese to cut fat and calories.

Saturday

Weekend brunch

1 whole-grain toaster waffle

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

4 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 slice Canadian bacon (about an ounce)

1 egg, any style

Total: 31 grams carb

328 calories

To the base menu add:

1 whole-grain toaster waffle

+

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Total: 51 grams carb

445 calories

To the base menu add:

1 whole-grain toaster waffle

+

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

+

4 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt

Total: 66 grams carb

541 calories

You can use vegetarian bacon or sausage in place of the Canadian bacon.

You can lower fat further by using nonfat yogurt. Plain yogurt is also an option.

Top the waffle with the yogurt and fruit instead of syrup.

Sunday

Savory scramble

1 egg scrambled with the following chopped items (spinach, onions, mushrooms, and cheese) cooked in the oil

1/2 cup spinach

1/4 cup onions4 mushrooms

1 ounce cheese

1 teaspoon cooking oil

1 slice whole-grain toast

1 tablespoon no-sugar-added fruit spread (jam)

Total: 30 grams carb

374 calories

To the base menu add:

1/2 cup potato

+

1 egg

Total: 45 grams carb

513 calories

To the base menu add:

1/2 cup potato

+

1 egg

+

1 whole-grain slice toast

+

1 tablespoon no-sugar-added fruit spread (jam)

Total: 71 grams carb

643 calories

Use reduced-fat cheese to lower the fat and calories.

Substitute crumbled tofu for the egg if desired.

Add shredded zucchini, chilies, and chopped tomato, if desired.