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Aug 23, 2012 11:45 AM

Cold Breakfast Cereal and Blood Sugar Spikes

We've found that my DH reacts to grains; for example....Dreamfields Spaghetti? Huge spike in BG for him, despite the "lower glycemic index" tagline.

He *loves* cold cereal in the morning....but I've been doing lots of box-reading, and stuff that looks like it'd be good (like Special K Protein Plus), has three types of sugar in it.

Is there any diabetic friendly cold cereal out there? I had two recommendations at my local whole foods, one for Fiber One (which is very high fiber, and has no sugar but is not low carb), the other for Qi'a Superfood Flax/Hemp/Chia (I believe?) cereal.

Any suggestions? We have been doing things with eggs and egg whites, lean meats at bfast, but esp in the hot weather, I think he'd love cereal and a splash of cream on top.

Any DM folks have suggestions? If cereal is a no no, it's a no no...we'll deal.

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  1. Grains are not diabetic friendly, sorry. :( It's a non starter, gonna have to learn to live without, especially in the a.m.

    My best advice is to google around for some of the better recipes out there for homemade low carb granola (I made it once and it was delicious, but I'm not a cereal eater) and make a bunch. Don't forget that added milk is a fast sugar bomb, too. It's an alternative to OJ for hypos in type 1 for that reason. I know that some Atkins dieters buy heavy cream, which is lower carb, and then dilute it to approximate milk by adding water.

    If he's eating lean, he's got to be missing a lot of flavor and nutrients. I think the research clearly demonstrates that fats with carbs is a bad meal for DM and CVD, but protein and fat restore metabolic health while not budging glucose. Instead of restriction, you might consider fat quality, like dairy and meats from pastured animals, real pastured butter (grass feeding leads to healthy fat types and other fatty acids that promote heart health) instead of grain fed, and fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, etc...

    Breakfast is the most limiting meal for low carbers, so a lot of us eat dinner leftovers, meat and veggies for breakfast. Or make low carb versions of the old Bisquick breakfast bakes using CarbQuik ( can be your friend) or crustless quiches, or smoked fish rolled up around cream cheese or on lettuce and tomato... ricotta and/or almond flour pancakes with SF Da Vinci syrups or a bit of real fruit, or whey peptide smoothies made with (high protein) Greek yogurt and a handful of frozen berries.

    In my house, it's whole eggs from free roaming chix, uncured bacon cooked crisp or sausage, hold the toast. Or omelettes with roasted ratatouille and swiss cheese. Or leftover chicken, steak or caprese salad.

    Just before you say, "oh, be quiet already," here's the lowest carb cereal I know of . I think Trader Joe's carries it. And make your friend, though I find a lot of awfully positive reviews on there for products I've found revolting... their selection and customer service are excellent.

    But I still think it's a Very Bad Idea. One well controlled DM I know loves muesli but can only eat a protein for breakfast with fat or he spikes. He saves the muesli for a late day snack when diurnal rhythm has bg running lower.

    Here's netrition's low carb breakfast food page. Lots of soy products and others stuff... I can vouch for usually good quality from Dixie Diner and Big Train mixes for muffins and mixes compared to others, but I don't use products any more. For a beginner, they can lighten the load while you're making adjustments:

    4 Replies
    1. re: mcf

      Yes, I think you're right...we've seen how his body reacts to even a handful of pretzels in the am. Bad news. DH is Irish American, and apart from his meat and potatoes love, he would often have a stack of toast for dessert with a cup of tea, a habit picked up from an uncle from Cork. I can't shake my head at that, because often Sunday dinner for me growing up was pasta, red sauce and a loaf of Italian bread. So we're both works in progress. Thanks again, mcf. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

      1. re: pinehurst

        You tell him MY husband is Irish and WAS a meat and spud loving guy, too. He's healthy, fit, low bp and pulse, zero medical issues and HE low carbs for health, fitness and prevention. I haven't seen him eat a pretzel or chips in years. Pretzels? White flour and water? Hard habit to break, but hey, if I ever find out I'm terminal, I'm eating a slice of pizza again WITH the CRUST. it's been YEARS. Unthinkable a decade ago, but here I am.

        My husband loves that gratin recipe I posted, his whole family does, I last made it with celery root. And meat, grilled with veggies, compound butter on steaks, cheeseburgers on Joseph's sandwich thins or just with knife and fork...

        It took me a decade of documenting my results to arrive at my current eating style, much of it kicking and screaming. Reading research on my own led to it, and a couple of my doctors have followed. I didn't always have it nailed the way I do now, either. That meter, though, that's going to be a life saver.

        Cutting out fats and limiting proteins will make dietary management of DM unbearable and less healthy, IME.

      2. re: mcf

        This is a "No-Oat Oatmeal" from Mark's Daily Apple (a great site you might enjoy). It's served warm, but I don't see why you couldn't serve it up cold, too.

        1. re: houndgirl

          As long as the banana is left out; big time bg spikers, bananas are. Berries might be okay if the quantity were limited. Sugars and starches are never tolerated well at breakfast in type 2.

          Irish husband might be able to save that starch with tea snack for between lunch and dinner, like at that 3-5 pm area when bg is dropping some, and have either a single slice of high fiber, thin slice diet bread (Weight Watchers is decent) but must have a bit of protein with it, too. Or he could have a small serving of Hi Lo then, with a low carb cream dilution or unsweetened soy milk.

          Or he could have a flax and almond meal muffin instead. Or learn to like Wasa or Ryvita or Kavli high fiber/low carb crisp breads with a slice of good cheese or ham or turkey or smoked fish...

      3. There are many recipes for low carb granola. They consist of various nuts, seeds and (often) sugar free maple syrup. Really good. I usually eat mine with almond milk but coconut milk is also good. Just be sure to check the carb count per cup. I get unsweetened vanilla and it is only 2 carbs per cup (1 net carb) and only 40 calories. I only use 1/2 cup.

        Check out for low carb cereal options too. I stay away from processed products for the most part, but sometimes they hit the spot :)

        1. Does he like original shredded wheat? One of my diabetic relatives doted on it. The original shouldn't have any form of sugar in it and is delicious.

          One thing I trust you have noticed too is that a lot of cold cereals have high fructose corn syrup in them, one reason they are hard on diabetics -- some brands will have it in one box and not another. A big problem I see for diabetics these days is the ways they are hiding high fructose corn syrup in everything. I would think that the good effects of real oatmeal (though it isn't a cold cereal or at least I can't stand it that way) would outweigh any bad effects.

          There are a few cold cereals that don't have high fructose corn syrup -- in our area sometimes corn flakes and sometimes whole wheat Cheerios but each box has to be read separately.

          2 Replies
          1. re: nativebatonrougean

            There are no good effects from oatmeal or other cereals for diabetics, only harm from excess carb consumption and at the very worst time of day to have them. Wheat, in particular, will spike any diabetic even in minute quantities. There's nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, in trying to fit this kind of meal into one's diabetes management.

          2. I am Type 1 and occasionally I will eat cold cereal (although not that often b/c in the morning your putting carbs into your system after an 8 hr fast - usually a recipe for spiking your Bg). Typically I will mix some of the Special K Protein Plus with Kashi's 7-Grain cereal (low carb). I use unsweetened almond milk and a little Splenda and rarely see a spike.

            Another suggestion would be for him to eat an egg white or two first and then eat the cereal.

            12 Replies
            1. re: lynnlato

              It is true that protein will cause a strong and sustained insulin response but type 2 diabetics have lost about 50% of all their beta cell mass by the time of diagnosis on average, and unlike type 1, can halt their further destruction by not causing further pancreatic stress. They can also reverse the progress and complicatins of the disease and gain tight control without the higher mortality that drugs + carbs cause. But not eating cereal at breakfast.

              Very different diseases with very different risk/benefit ratios.

              1. re: mcf

                I didn't know the OP's husband was T2. She just asked for feedback from folks w/ DM.

                I think it's important to point out that what may work for you or me doesn't mean it will work for another Diabetic. Diabetes management is certainly not an exact science and people need to eat and test often before afterwards and in between to really know how certain foods affect their Bg.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  I'm sorry, I forgot we haven't all been discussing his DM in the same threads together. He was admitted to hospital with fasting well over 400, but with low carbing and especially avoiding carbs early in the day, he was 123 an hour after lunch recently and he came off of insulin right after changing his diet using a bg meter as his guide, which was my primary recommendation. As usual, the dietitian had him on a deadly, carb heavy plan.

                  WRT your admonishment: you haven't read the threads in which I suggested to use a meter and to test post meal to find out what food worked for the OPs *husband*. Or where she was amazed how my advice to avoid carbs in the a.m., when bg is highest daily due to normal diurnal cortisol rhythm, applied to him. Saving those carbs until afternoon or evening can avoid a spike that the same food causes in the morning.

                  1. re: mcf

                    I see! After reading your previous post, I figured you must be privy to more information than what some of the rest of us had.

                    The 2nd part of my post wasn't directed at you, but rather a general statement to all posters after reading many of the posts here. I think folks often times think that there are rigid rules that work for all diabetics when the disease is as different as all of us are from one another. There are certainly some common denominators however.( I hate how things sometimes get lost in translation). Mcf, you offer great advice to DM's on these message boards and you help to dispel many of the myths about our disease and for that I high five you. ;-)

                    To the OP: There is a website,, that is a Diabetes specific site that has many, many different message boards. People share everything from treatment details, management issues, diet details, new product finds, study groups, etc. It has been helpful to me.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      I often find myself silently cheering your advice to diabetics, too. The places where we differ have, I think, to do with the things that are ok for type 1 but hasten the progression of type 2, and that's a typical point of difference anywhere I've read and posted.

                      Bottom line for me is "eat to your meter" and set your goals lower than the official guidelines which are proven to increase mortality and DM damage risks. The rest is up to each of us, individually.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I think you must have a deeper understanding of T2 then I is all I can figure. I never realized that eating and treating like a T1 could "hasten the progression of T2".

                        "Eat to your meter" - I like that. If only people would actually use their meters more often. I've always had a much stricter management style than most T1's. Mostly because I was diagnosed in my 20's when I was pregnant and so I was taught a very tight mgmt style to prevent complications like macrosomia (for which, in retrospect, I am grateful for). I like to keep my A1c in the 5's, minimize lows and spikes and try not to obsess too much... because child, I love food! :)

                        I'm so glad CH created this board also. It's a great thing.

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Hi there--chiming in briefly as the OP...mcf really summarized the tale well but yes, my DH was diagnosed with Type 2 during admission to the hospital this past summer for a mild about a wake up call. Discharge instructions included in-hospital meetings with nutritionists, who admonished DH to eat "good" carbs at breakfast like unsweetened oatmeal, whole wheat toast, a small glass of juice, etc. Well, even with two types of insulin (long and short acting), this was not preventing really huge spikes in BG, especially in the am. Turns out he really should *not* have any grains before noon for his optimal BG levels.

                          Had I not found this board, I would have blindly followed the advice of "folks in the know", and my DH's health would have suffered. Live and learn, and again, thank heavens indeed for the board, as lynnlato said!

                          1. re: pinehurst

                            Pinehurst, I'm sorry for your husband's health struggles, but I am glad that you are committed to helping him. It's a full-time job to make your way through all the bad info. before you find what works. I empathize with you both and commend you.

                            Here's to good mgmt and good food! :)

                          2. re: lynnlato

                            " I like to keep my A1c in the 5's, minimize lows and spikes and try not to obsess too much... because child, I love food! :)"

                            Sistah! Words to live by.

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              "I think you must have a deeper understanding of T2 then I is all I can figure. I never realized that eating and treating like a T1 could "hasten the progression of T2"

                              Well, using insulin could slow the progress, but it has problems, too, so reducing the need for it is much more optimal. We still have pancreatic function to protect and many type 2s have insulin resistance, so using more insulin is less than desirable if used to consume more carbs. Regular insulin early on can give the pancreas a rest and with low carbing can optimize its ability to function the rest of our natural lives without worsening.

                              FTR, I'm quite sure you have vastly more knowledge of type 1 than I, since that's what you have. There are some common features, but very different causes and interventions.

                              1. re: mcf

                                "many type 2s have insulin resistance, so using more insulin is less than desirable if used to consume more carbs."

                                mcf, now that you "said" that it makes complete sense to me. Doh! Breaking the carb addiction is optimal and what will give the pancreas the break it needs. Very interesting. Thanks for the shared insight.

                      2. re: lynnlato

                        I'm relatively new, but that would certainly seem to be the case.

                        I'm testing my blood twice a day, and figuring out what I can and cannot get away with. After going to diabetes education and being told I could indeed have some starches and fruits I totally spiked.

                        Since then I have learned I can eat 1/2 an English Muffin, but not the whole thing, or 1 slice of whole grain bread with a bit of marmalade on it, but not 2.

                        I can have a couple of squares of high-cocoa chocolate (70% is the best balance of sweet and cocoa), and, most importantly, I can still have my obscure, potent beers... just not as often or as many as before.

                        I've been able to totally flip the switch on potatoes and rice and was never much of a pasta person to begin with, so that is a big help.

                        FWIW, I am Type O, so I do really well on a hard-core low-carb diet... and my cholesterol is normal, with low blood pressure and low pulse, so I can go egg/cheese/meat crazy for breakfast and do OK.

                        And exercise will prove to be a big key for me, as it should be for any diabetic.

                  2. Quaker rolled oats, served neat and unmolested.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Chowrin

                      The OP's husband gets a Big Spike from carbs in the morning.

                      1. re: mcf

                        Yes, and this was a mind spinner for me (i.e., "But, but.....Oatmeal is GOOD FOR YOU!!!")

                        1. re: pinehurst

                          I have encountered maybe one or two type 2 diabetics in over a decade who can get away with eating a small portion of cooked steel cut oats (but not regular) if they have some protein with it, but they had higher tolerance for bg above optimal than I do. Rarely at breakfast, though.