Foods, Prediabetes

Healthy Pancakes and Waffles for Prediabetes

Pancakes and waffles are high in carbohydrates, so does that mean you need to skip them with your prediabetes diet? Learn how to make your breakfast healty!
Can I have waffles with prediabetes? Healthy prediabetes breakfast
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

Prediabetes happens when the body has high levels of sugar (or glucose) in the blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blood sugar is lower than it is in diabetes, but having prediabetes means being at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes happens because the body no longer processes carbohydrates properly in the foods you eat. Pancakes and waffles are high in carbohydrates, so does that mean you need to skip them?

Not at all! These are some healthier ways to eat pancakes and waffles when you have prediabetes.

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Are Pancakes and Waffles Really That Bad for Blood Sugar?

They can be! A Belgian waffle with butter and syrup can have over 600 calories. A stack of pancakes with butter and syrup can have 900 calories. 

How does this happen? First, the batter includes ingredients such as white flour, sugar, and butter. Next, portion sizes can be the equivalent of 4 or more servings of carbohydrates. Toppings can be sugary, creamy, and buttery. Too many nutrient-poor ingredients plus oversized portions can spell trouble for weight and blood sugar.

What to Look for and What to Limit When Having Pancakes and Waffles

Look for… Limit…
  • Smaller portion sizes, such as short stack, silver dollar or small-sized pancakes or waffles
  • Buckwheat, whole wheat, oatmeal, multigrain, and other choices made with whole grains
  • Fresh fruit inside or as toppings
  • Non-fat cottage cheese or ricotta toppings
  • Full stacks and giant pancakes and waffles
  • Chocolate chips and other sugary ingredients
  • Butter and whipped cream toppings
  • Syrup, jam, sugary fruit toppings
  • “Cupcake,” “cheesecake,” and other dessert-like pancakes and waffles

Basic Whole-Grain Pancakes with Variations

This is a basic recipe for whole-grain pancakes that you can enjoy as is, or that you can alter to suit your mood with some variations.

To make the pancakes, mix 1 ½ cups of whole-wheat flour, (1 cup whole-wheat flour and ½ cup white flour), 2 teaspoons of baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and (optional) ½ tablespoon of sugar. Add to a mixture of 2 beaten eggs and 1 ¼ cup milk. Cook on a griddle or in a frying pan with cooking spray, just as you would regular pancakes.

They are great on their own, or you can vary them with these ideas.

  1. Add 1 diced apple and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter before cooking.
  2. Place blueberries or sliced strawberries or bananas on the pancakes when they are starting to cook.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the batter.
  4. Use 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of oats.
  5. Add ¼ cup of flaxseed to the batter and use only 1 ¼ cup flour.
  6. Use cottage cheese instead of milk and cut the flour to 1 ¼ cup.
  7. Use 1 egg and add 1 mashed banana, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and ¼ cup walnuts or pecans.
  8. Swap cornmeal for ½ cup of flour.

For more ideas, consider banana oatmeal pancakes from Mayo Clinic, or whole-wheat pumpkin pancakes, also from Mayo Clinic.

Or, try making savory pancakes, such as spinach pancakes with fresh or drained frozen spinach, whole-grain flour, eggs, salt, baking powder, and feta, swiss, or parmesan cheese. The American Heart Association has a similar recipe for zucchini parmesan pancakes. If you love savory pancakes, consider brown rice pancakes with napa cabbage from Harvard School of Public Health.

Healthy Waffles for Prediabetes

Waffles can be healthy, just like pancakes. Simple tweaks can include using whole-wheat or almond flour instead of white flour, cut back on sugar, and use olive oil, peanut butter, or yogurt instead of melted butter in the recipe. Don’t forget there are plenty of brands of frozen waffles that offer whole-grain varieties without much sugar!

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Healthy Pancake and Waffle Toppings

Pancake and waffle toppings can put your breakfast over the edge, or it can transform it into a nutritional point of pride. These are some healthier options for topping your pancakes or waffles.

  1. 1 cup of strawberries, other berries, or fresh cut fruit.
  2. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on top or sandwiched between two small pancakes.
  3. Cooked egg whites on top or sandwiched between two small pancakes.
  4. 1 tablespoon of chopped peanuts or nuts.
  5. ½ cup stewed apples cooked with cinnamon.
  6. A dusting of cocoa powder.
  7. ¼ cup fat-free ricotta and ½ cup sliced peaches.

If you want to lose weight and lower blood sugar while eating the foods you love, Lark is right with you. Lark Diabetes Prevention Program is designed to offer personalized coaching for healthy choices that fit into your lifestyle as you lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. You may be eligible for Lark DPP, so check your materials from your health insurance and employer!