Cereal is such a beloved breakfast choice, largely because it is an easy way to make a quick and healthy meal. Just fill a bowl and add milk, and voilà. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
For diabetics, it can seem like 90% of the available serial options are automatically unavailable to them because they are loaded with sugar. Take a walk down the cereal aisle of your local grocery store and you will find literally hundreds of different brands of cereal, with the bulk of them being packed with sugar.
Most breakfast cereals you see on the store shelves are consumed by and marketed towards children, who coincidentally happen to love the taste of sugar and haven’t lived long enough yet to develop the symptoms of diabetes.
For those of us who have and must watch our blood sugar levels like a hawk, it can be a bit more challenging to find suitable choices for cereal, but once you know what to look for it’s not that hard to find good options at all.
Complex carbohydrates and fiber are the key
The qualities that make a great cereal for diabetics are the same qualities that make a great option for any other kind of food. Glucose is converted directly from carbohydrates that we eat our diet, so we must make sure that we consume carbohydrates that are slow to be broken down and absorbed by our digestive systems.
This ensures that glucose is released slowly into our blood stream over a longer period of time, so that there are no spikes in our blood sugar levels. At the same time it makes it easier for our body to naturally regulate our sugar levels through insulin secretion and other means.
Simple carbohydrates are made from refined flour and simple sugars like table sugar and that is what you will find mostly in those cereals that are marketed towards children. The carbohydrates and sugars are broken down very quickly and released into the bloodstream creating a dangerous spiked in glucose levels and later a crash.
This is obviously not the kind of cereal that is suitable for people with diabetes. They need to choose complex carbohydrate-based cereal that is made from whole grains and unprocessed ingredients.
Use the cereal boxes ingredients label and nutritional chart as a guide
The easiest and quickest way to decipher whether a cereal is appropriate, take a glance at the nutritional and ingredients labels on the box or bag. As a general rule, you want to look at the number of grams of carbohydrates in one serving, and deduct the grams of fiber. The lower the number the better the cereal is for diabetics.
But the total carbohydrate count does not tell the whole story. Remember that carbohydrates from whole grains and unprocessed foods are broken down more slowly, so they are a better choice. So read the ingredients label and make sure that the grain, whatever it may be, is minimally processed or not processed all.
Additionally, dietary fiber is wonderfully beneficial to diabetics. Insoluble fiber is non-digestible by our bodies so it helps to slow the digestive process down and keep blood sugar low. It also acts like a sponge in the colon and absorbs cholesterol and other harmful components of our food.
Oatmeal is one of the best cereals for diabetics
One of the best cereal choices for people with diabetes is oatmeal. A simple bowl of instant oatmeal is so easy to make, just add hot water, and it is also incredibly healthy and keeps blood sugar levels stable. Oatmeal is also incredibly high in soluble fiber as well.
Try adding some fresh fruit to a bowl of oatmeal, and you have pretty much the perfect meal. I eat oatmeal with fresh fruit at least every other day for breakfast and it really helps to keep my glucose levels under control, and it just makes me feel great as well.