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5 Best Oatmeal Habits if You Have Diabetes, Say Dietitians

Despite what many people believe, you don't have to give up all carbs!
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

It can be disheartening learning that you have diabetes, especially knowing that your daily diet will have to change, along with the ways you eat some of your favorite foods.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of possibilities when it comes to eating foods you love and managing your blood sugar. While some people may assume they can't have any carbohydrates, this isn't the case. Healthy carbs, like oats, can be a part of a diabetes-friendly diet. However, just make sure you talk with your doctor, first.

"Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution in your gut further helping to lower bad and total cholesterol and increase feelings of fullness. The fiber found in oats helps slow down digestion, which ultimately slows down how fast the carbohydrate impacts your blood sugar, causing more of a blunt than a spike," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our medical expert board.

In order to make your morning oats even healthier for diabetes management, Goodson suggests adding certain toppings. "To really help stabilize blood sugar, pair your oats with protein and/or healthy fat to further decrease that blood sugar spike, ultimately helping your blood sugar stay more stable the hours following the meal."

Continue reading to learn about the best ways you can make diabetes-friendly oatmeal in the morning. Then make sure to check out 4 Eating Habits Secretly Increasing Your Blood Sugar.

Make overnight oats with protein.

overnight oats

People often just think of a hot bowl of oats when it comes to making oatmeal, but overnight oats are a creative way to get your nutrients in while you're on the go.

"Proteins like milk and yogurt are great bases for chilled overnight oats. Grab a mason jar (or anything with a lid), and add oats, milk, Greek yogurt, your favorite berries, and nuts, and let that sit overnight. In the morning you'll have a high-fiber, high-protein, nutritious breakfast that will keep you feeling satisfied and your blood sugar stable all morning," says Goodson.

Add an egg to your oatmeal.

savory oatmeal with fried egg and peppers

This may sound different at first, but don't knock it until you try it! Adding an egg to your oats may be the secret you need for keeping your breakfast oats diabetes-friendly.

"While your oatmeal is cooking, add a whisked egg to add some protein and important micronutrients. Eggs are considered to be an acceptable protein option for people with diabetes, and The American Heart Association Nutrition Committee science advisory says that healthy individuals can consume up to two eggs per day within the context of a heart-healthy dietary pattern. Including protein in your meals can support blood glucose control, and adding an egg to oatmeal is a simple way to do just that," says medical expert board member Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility.

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Top your oats with healthy fats.

oatmeal walnuts

"Toppings like nut butters, nuts, and seeds are fantastic additions to oatmeal because they provide healthy fat, which digests slower than carbohydrates, helping stabilize your blood sugar after a meal, as well as keeping you satiated," says Goodson.

And according to Manaker, one of the best ways to get these healthy fats on top of your oatmeal is by including some walnuts!

"Walnuts contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein, which are three factors that help support healthy blood sugars. Data shows that a walnut-enriched diet improves endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in people with type 2 diabetes, suggesting a potential reduction in overall cardiac risk," says Manaker.

Skip natural sweeteners.

oatmeal fruit berries walnuts nuts

If you're trying to stabilize your blood sugar, you may want to avoid even the natural sweeteners.

"Although sweet additions like maple syrup, agave, and honey sound like better options than sprinkling sugar onto your oats, including them in your meal can contribute to elevated blood sugars just like table sugar can. Instead, lean on the natural sweetness of berries or other fruits to give your oats some flavor along with added fiber and antioxidants," says Manaker.

Turn your oatmeal into energy bites.

oat bites made with almond nuts and pumpkin seeds cranberries energy balls

"Many people only think about oatmeal in the morning, but you can twist things up by turning oatmeal into oatmeal energy bites," says Goodson.

You can find tons of recipes online for these types of energy bites, but Goodson says it's a quick and simple process that anyone can do!

"Make your energy bites with pureed Medjool dates as the base, or the "glue" that holds them together (providing fiber and nutrients), then add your oats (for fiber). Next, add protein powder, non-fat dried milk powder or collagen (for protein to help stabilize blood sugar), and finally add your favorite nut butter, nuts, or seeds for that satisfying healthy fat. Voila! You have an oatmeal snack that's high in fiber, protein, and healthy fat, and tastes delicious without spiking your blood sugar!" says Goodson.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha