Oats are hailed as the great all-time, slow-release, blood-sugar stabilising breakfast. Marketed as perfect for those with diabetes because they are low on the glycemic index (GI) and will keep you full for hours. They’re super-quick to make and super-slow to digest . . .
Well, excuse me for trampling all over their porridge parade, but—this is not the case!
Oats are troublesome at best for most people with diabetes.
First up—it depends which type of oats you have as to how low GI they are. When reading the GI scale, the lower the number, the slower the food digests. A GI of 100 refers to the absorption rate of pure glucose.
Instant Oatmeal = between 66 - 79 (AKA - this is not low!)
Rolled Oats = 55
Steel Cut Oats = 42
So, according to the numbers, steel-cut oats are a genuinely low GI option. But bang goes the super quick to make theory because steel-cut oats are not instant. These guys take upwards of 30 minutes to cook, or if you’re clever then you can leave them on the hob (switched off) overnight after you bring them to a boil—I’ve not yet tried this method, admittedly.
Personally, I’ve always struggled when injecting insulin for oats. They’re certainly not slow to get into my system. Breaking every rule going, oats send me very high within minutes of eating them and then very low later.
This is the exact spike-crash phenomenon people are trying to avoid when they eat Oats. The irony.
Many people on Instagram have messaged me this week with their oaty experiences and most of them have the exact same problems. Extreme highs followed by extreme lows. Many of them have either given up on oats altogether or they say ‘they’re highly unpredictable, but I persist’.
My Oat Challenge
This week, I challenged myself to find the perfect bolus for a bowl of oats. I hear fellow PWD’s laughing as I type this! Is there a perfect bolus for anything?! I doubt it. But my Dietician would have me believe that with enough patience, writing down of numbers and using the square waves, dual waves and pre-boluses available to us—anything is possible.
I gave it a good trial and did all the pre-bolusing and dual waving I could. But I never quite got it right. I’ve had spikes as high as 13mmol/L and lows as low as 3.1mmol/L. This is pretty horrific in diabetes world.
Next week, I have a feeling I’ll turn back to my predictable bacon sandwich & coffee.
I’ve been eating steel-cut oats so they are the lowest GI oats going. I also added unsweetened apple puree (very low GI) and almond butter (low GI plus pretty-much carb free). The fat from the almond butter should have slowed the oats down even further—but alas, nothing worked!
Today, I continued to bring forward my pre-bolus—which means giving my insulin a head start to help counter the fast digestion of oats.
Currently, my blood sugars have risen from a very perfect 5.0mmol/L before eating to 12.0mmol/L and still rising. This is bad people. Very, very high and very, very bad. I’m extremely thirsty and the backs of my eyes ache. I also need to watch out for the inevitable crash (low blood-sugar), which will happen later today.
To be honest, I may persist next week, but I’m leaning towards a no at the moment!
Oats are wholesome and I know they contain loads of nutritional amazingness. But for me, they are an uncontrollable blood-sugar nightmare.
When considering blood sugars and blood sugars alone—bacon and eggs with wholegrain toast is a winner every time. Coffee is entirely optional.
Who am I kidding—drink the damn coffee!
*Your diabetes may vary (YDMV) - so please know oats may work absolutely fine for some people with diabetes. Please don’t let me put you off. Give them a trial yourself.*