To me, brunch is a scrumptious event! It combines the elements of breakfast and lunch into one meal, and can serve as a substitute for both. Many people associate brunch with weekends – particularly Sundays. And because brunch is typically eaten late morning or early afternoon, it is well-suited for those who want to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely midday meal. Always be sure to talk to your diabetes care team about how combining two meals in one may affect you.
However, traditional brunch dishes usually contain breakfast ingredients such as eggs, full-fat cheese, sausages, bacon, as well as pancakes and waffles made with whole milk, all of which may wreak havoc on any healthy meal plan, especially for those living with diabetes. No need to get thrown off course, though; I tell clients that just a few minor adjustments in their selections may help them better manage blood sugar while still satisfying that craving for a long, leisurely brunch.
The following five tips may help make your next brunch diabetes-friendlier.
Brunch can be a wonderful meal to host. Many brunch items can be assembled ahead of time, and when your guests arrive, all you have to do is warm and serve; no need to slave over a hot stove when you can entertain family and friends in a relaxed atmosphere. And by changing a few key ingredients, you can make lighter versions of your traditional family favorites.
- Save forty-five calories and almost five grams of fat when you substitute ¼ cup of an egg substitute for one whole egg.
- Whole milk weighs in at about 150 calories and eight grams of fat per cup. Use skim milk instead and save sixty calories and eight grams of fat.
- A serving (¼ cup) of maple syrup or regular pancake syrup comes in at a staggering fifty grams of carbohydrates, while a sugar-free syrup has just twelve grams of carbohydrate – that’s almost a forty-gram savings!
- You can save even more fat and calories by using a low-fat cheese instead of a full-fat product, and choose Canadian bacon or ham instead of regular pork bacon.
- Substituting an artificial sweetener for sugar in beverages and baked goods can cut down on calories as well as carbohydrate.
- You can read more about what sugar-free means here.
Scan the buffet
Going to a buffet-style brunch? Before you start indulging in the first foods you see, take a moment to examine all the culinary delights available. Then choose small portions of food you really, really want. Often just a taste will satisfy cravings. Try to select a combination of foods that balance protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Remember that buffet portions can be very large, so don’t use the biggest plate you can find – as a matter of fact, consider using the smallest.
Avoid sugar traps
Use caution when choosing low-fat or fat-free desserts; they often have more total carbohydrate than their full-fat cousins. And don’t forget the fruit! Sliced fruit or fruit salad is always delicious and refreshing. You can get more low-carb fruit ideas here.
Drink to your health
If a sweetened coffee drink is your guilty pleasure, allow yourself a small cup instead of a muffin or pastry. Stick with drinks that use flavored coffee beans instead of syrups or creamers to keep both the calorie and carbohydrate counts down. (Learn more about coffee drinks and diabetes here.) Finally, many brunches include an alcohol-based drink, such as a mimosa or Bloody Mary. I tell clients that these may be considered an occasional indulgence but to keep in mind that Champagne, wine, and alcoholic drinks are high in calories and may cause unexpected blood sugar levels. Instead try sparkling water, seltzer, or a reduced-calorie juice mixed with sparkling water or club soda. If you’re thinking about drinking alcohol, here’s what you should know.
Take time to really savor the wonderful aroma, variety of color, great flavor, and texture of your food. Concentrate on eating slowly by putting your fork down between bites and really enjoying the taste and companionship of family and friends during the meal. Eating slower may also help you eat less as you pay attention to your stomach – you might stop eating before you feel bloated and stuffed. The added bonus? This may help with weight control!
Finally, if brunch (combining breakfast and lunch) is on your calendar, be sure to eat a small “snack-type” meal (e.g., fruit and a slice of toast with margarine) at your normal breakfast time. When brunch is over, eat your afternoon snack as usual.
Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE*, CDN – an award-winning registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – is the author of The African American Guide To Living Well With Diabetes and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes. Learn more about her work at www.eatingsoulfully.net and follow her @eatingsoulfully. Brown-Riggs is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience