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Brunch has been a popular weekend event since it was first introduced, some historians believe, in 1890s Britain. Originally, this meal was meant to replace the traditional heavy Sunday luncheon by combining breakfast and lunch with a relaxing social time and a lighter meal. Nowadays, though, brunch can end up being a feast that makes other meals look like a snack. But with a little know-how, you can enjoy this pastime with your family and friends without dealing with possible challenges afterwards

Brunch around the world

While this mid-morning meal varies as you travel the globe, eggs appear to be a favourite whether it is omelettes in North America, a tomato-based shakshuka (poached eggs) in the Middle East, or tapsilog (a fried egg plus other dishes such as fried rice) from the Philippines. In the Caribbean, ackee (a fruit that looks like scrambled eggs) and saltfish are often served with fried dumplings. Dumplings are also a big part of Chinese dim sum, which features steamed and fried dough with savoury or sweet fillings. In other parts of Asia, soups and curries may be on the menu at any meal of the day, including breakfast.

What is on your menu?

Because brunch is a combination of two meals, the temptation is to eat as much in one sitting as you would normally eat in two meals, says Joanne Lewis, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. “[This] can be manageable for some people with diabetes,” she says, “especially if they are able to dose insulin according to their carb intake."

But eating a big meal rather than smaller amounts of food throughout the day does not give your body time to digest and handle the sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates before you eat the next meal.

A big concern, according to Lewis, is that “the traditional offerings at brunch are generally carb-heavy. There can be breads, pastries, waffles, pancakes, and/or potatoes on the menu, which may [have] a high glycemic index [and which could raise your blood sugar very quickly]. In addition to the carbs, there are often high-sodium and high-saturated-fat items, such as sausage and bacon.”

The good news? There are many healthier alternatives. You can keep carb counts down by filling up on low-carb vegetables, such as salads and cooked dishes that include veggies, and choosing smaller portions of high-carb veggies. Eating more protein and whole grains will also help you stay within your carbohydrate budget (the amount of carbs your body can handle at one time in order to keep your blood sugar at target two hours after you eat).

Other brunch tips

Brunch can vary from mid- to late morning. If you will be eating closer to noon, Lewis suggests having a light meal when you wake up to prevent low blood sugar, especially if you are taking oral diabetes medications or a fixed dose of insulin in the morning (such as a premixed insulin). But even if you are not taking any medication for diabetes, being too hungry can cause you to overeat once you do sit down for brunch.

To avoid mindless eating or the temptation to eat more, put your knife and fork on the plate and push it away from you, to signify to yourself and others that you have finished eating.

Once brunch is over, Lewis suggests taking a walk, which can help to reduce post-meal blood sugar readings.

Did you know?

Whether you’re planning an informal family brunch or a more formal get-together, Diabetes Canada offers a range of healthy recipes and meal plans that will provide cooking inspiration.

This adapted article originally appeared in Diabetes Dialogue.

Author: Rosie Schwartz, RD, FDC

Category Tags: Healthy Living;

Region: National

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