Your mom was right. Breakfast is the day's most important meal, especially for those with diabetes.

"Metabolically and nutritionally, breakfast can help with blood sugar control," says Ericka Arrecis, diabetes educator and registered dietitian at the Naomi Berrie Center for Diabetes at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. "And it helps to nourish the body so that you have energy for the day ahead."

Many people with diabetes tend to skip breakfast as a way to keep their blood sugar in control, says Jennifer Regester, registered dietitian at the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. What happens, though, is that their blood sugar drops too low. They then feel ravenously hungry, and they overeat at lunch and dinner. This causes a spike in the blood sugar, Regester explains, so the person would have been better off just eating breakfast in the first place.

If someone with diabetes wakes up with a very high blood sugar, say 300, breakfast is still recommended but should be confined to some protein, says Arrecis.

"Then you would want to skip the carbs since the blood sugar is so elevated and we don't want to aggravate that number," she says. "By the next meal, when the blood sugar goes down, then we can reintroduce carbs in a healthy way."

What to Eat

As for what to eat, "look for a balanced meal in the morning," advises Arrecis. A good breakfast contains protein, fat and complex carbohydrates like wholegrain bread or oatmeal. As for fruit, whole fruit is definitely a better bet than juice, Arrecis says. "The whole fruit doesn't spike the blood sugar as quickly as juice, so it's a more diabetes-friendly choice," she says. "Rather than orange juice, have a whole fresh orange, a peach or an apple."

Here are some healthy, delicious and filling breakfast ideas from Regester and Arrecis.

  • An egg white omelet with a slice of whole wheat toast, and a piece of fruit.
  • An egg sandwich made with wholegrain bread or an English muffin, and a piece of fruit. Since the general rule on egg consumption is four whole eggs per week, try either all egg whites or occasionally scramble one egg with two or three whites, Regester says.
  • A bowl of oatmeal made with half a cup of oats. "It's really easy to overeat on cereal," Regester says. "Portion size is very important."
  • A peanut butter sandwich made with two slices of whole wheat bread and all-natural peanut butter.
  • Yogurt with nuts and fruit. "I like using the Greek yogurt because it has a healthy amount of protein in it," Arrecis says. "Try it with some nuts and blueberries."
  • Cereal and lowfat milk, though it's important to choose a high fiber cereal over a sugary one. "Cereal tends to be a little more challenging because most of the cereals people choose to eat are low in fiber and raise the blood sugar more quickly," Arrecis says. "Here, too, you should play close attention to portion size."