Ask Dana: Simple Solutions to your Diabetes Dilemmas
I have heard many different opinions about drinking coffee and I never know if it is something that I should avoid drinking. And sometimes I even notice that my blood sugars rise after drinking a morning coffee even if I haven’t eaten any carbohydrates! What is the final word on the health beWhat’s the final word on breakfast? I try to eat something first thing in the morning, but it is always so challenging to manage my blood sugars after breakfast and I’m not always even hungry. Is it really the most important meal of the day? – Laurie Hall, Chicago, Illinois
Most of us remember our mother or grandmother constantly reminding us that we must have a hearty breakfast to start our day out well. It is also a common belief that breakfast eaters consistently have more success with weight loss and weight management. So, it is no surprise that many people believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, current research shows that the benefit of breakfast is not in the timing of it, but in the quality of the food eaten. Breaking the fast, or breakfast as we now call it, begins revving the engine of the digestive tract. Breakfast could be at 6AM, 8AM or 10:30AM. However, the typical, carb-heavy, American breakfast fare of cereal, pancakes, waffles, and muffins (mini cakes, anyone?) is not the quality food that optimizes your body to start the day.
This is especially true for people with diabetes who may also notice that they struggle to manage their blood sugars after their “break fast” meal of the day. This is because your body releases specific hormones in the morning that can actually cause you to need more insulin than at other times of the day. Additionally, many folks also see a rise in their blood sugars with coffee and other caffeinated beverages enjoyed in the early morning hours. The caffeine can be an additional culprit to blood sugar rising in the morning. So, a need for more insulin coupled with a processed carbohydrate breakfast can make it a challenge to manage blood sugars in the morning.
So, do we even need to eat breakfast?
The answer is “yes” but not first thing when you wake up. Eat when you are ready but make sure to have a healthy start to the day by eating high-fiber, whole grains with a protein. This combination will help to avoid a blood sugar spike and provide a healthy wake-up to your digestive system. If eating a well-balanced breakfast doesn’t fully solve the problem of managing blood sugars after your first meal of the day, it may be time to examine how much insulin you are taking to cover morning carbohydrates and caffeine. A member of the IDS team would be happy to help you look at this pattern and provide some guidance on starting your day in the best possible way!
Dana is a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist and Registered Dietitian. She holds certifications in insulin pump therapy and obesity interventions for adults. Dana received a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago after receiving a Bachelor’s in Science with Honors at the University of Texas at Austin. After college, Dana served as an AmeriCorp volunteer on a variety of health education initiatives and played a key role in establishing the first school-based health clinic in the city of Chicago.