IT’S said to be the most important meal of the day.
However, a few simple swaps could make breakfast the healthiest, too.
For the millions of people in Britain with type 2 diabetes, switching up your breakfast choices, could make all the difference.
The condition is linked to poor diet, obesity and a lack of exercise.
But just because you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve – or even reverse – the condition.
Here, we reveal the simple swaps you can make first thing, to kickstart your day in a healthier way, according to Diabetes UK:
Swap #1: Cereal for porridge
Not all cereals are as healthy as you might think.
Some brands are so packed full of sugar that health authorities are now urging parents not to give their kids certain cereals anymore.
Even granola can be full of the sweet stuff, as well as fat.
Try having a bowl of porridge instead. But be careful not to smother it in gold syrup – just use fresh fruit if you want a hit of sweetness.
If oats don’t float your boat, have a go at making your own flavoured yoghurt.
Simply buy some low or zero fat yoghurt and mix in a handful of nuts, seeds and cropped fruit.
Swap #2: White for wholemeal
You really want to avoid refined carbs as these can play havoc with blood sugar.
Ever noticed how jam on toast can often leave you starving by 11am? Well, it’s all down to blood sugar.
When we eat a carb, the body converts it into glucose (sugar) and that goes into our blood. Our blood glucose levels then rise.
The quicker they rise, the quicker they fall – and that’s what causes hunger, lethargy, sugar cravings.
The difference between healthy whole grains and refined sugars and white carbs is how long that process takes.
The more fibre you eat, the longer it takes to digest – and the fuller you feel.
“When you eat a meal with lots of refined carbohydrates, your pancreas sees a huge spike in blood glucose levels, so it starts to release insulin as quickly as it can to try to catch up,” Harley Street nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert, told The Sun.
“But this can often result in too much glucose being removed from your blood, causing a blood sugar crash or very low blood sugar levels, which is when you often may want to reach for that biscuit to give you more sugar.
“For example, having a slice of white bread with jam for breakfast will rarely keep you full for long owing to the rapid release of energy.”
So go for wholegrain bread and top with mashed banana, nut butter, or cottage cheese with some chopped dates.
There are obviously loads of savoury options you could have too, like avocado, tomatoes and mushrooms on toast.
Swap #3: Fried for scrambled
Everyone loves a fry up. But, why not try grilling rather than frying your bacon and sausages?
And where possible, swap red meat for oily fish like salmon or kippers.
Serve with scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and wholegrain toast for a nutritious and delicious breakfast.
It could also help slash your cancer risk after a study found a pack of bacon a week increases your risk of bowel cancer by a fifth.
Quick breakfast tips
- Always choose brown over white when it comes to bread
- keep croissants, muffins and pastries as an occasional treat
- use as little oil as possible and use sunflower, olive or rapeseed oil instead of butter
- add extra fruit and veg whenever you can
- ditch the “breakfast drinks” – Diabetes UK tested one 330ml drink and found it contained 32g of sugar which is more than the RDA of free sugars for adults
- don’t buy kids cereals. Only buy low-sugar alternatives like Shredded Wheat
Source: Diabetes UK
Swap #4: Full-fat for skimmed
Did you know that swapping from whole to skimmed milk can save you 164 calories and 19.8g of fat per pint?
That’s the equivalent of four chocolate digestive biscuits.
Use skimmed in your teas and coffees and hold off on the sugar.
If you like having a morning glass of juice, remember that shop-bought juice often has added sugar or little fibre.
Try making your own instead, blending a mixture fruit and veg.
Swap #5: Cereal bars for fruit
Not everyone has the time to sit down to a full breakfast.
It’s really tempting just to grab a couple of cereal bars on your way out and snack on them en route to work.
But cereal bars are often really high in sugar and fats too.
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They’re often bound together by syrups and aren’t as protein-packed as you might think.
Instead, why not cut up an apple and pop it in a pot with some nut butter? Or take a container of nuts to have alongside a banana?
That way you’ve actually got more food for fewer calories and way less sugar. And it’s just as convenient.
How to make guilt-free pancakes
Diabetes UK has a “guilt-free” blueberry pancake recipe for anyone who loves the American classic.
- 200g wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- 250ml skimmed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g fresh blueberries
- 2 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
- Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, milk and vanilla extract.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour, then gradually stir in the egg and milk mixture until you get a smooth batter. Ideally, leave the batter to stand for a few minutes before cooking.
- Lightly crush half the blueberries with a fork and mix these into the batter, along with the remaining (whole) blueberries.
- Add a little oil to a non-stick pan, then add the batter to the pan, 1 tbsp at a time, to create small pancakes, making sure the blueberries are evenly distributed.
- Cook the pancakes on a medium heat for 2–3 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 2 minutes. The pancakes are ready to turn when you see bubbles appearing on the surface. Sprinkle with a little sugar before serving, if using. Serve with some low-fat yogurt or low-fat crème fraiche, if liked.
Freeze pancake mix ahead of time to save time and defrost before frying.
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