Tips for Navigating the Breakfast Buffet

A few weeks ago, my few of my girlfriends and I spent a weekend away at a nearby casino and hotel resort. Included with our stay was a complimentary breakfast at one of the buffets in the hotel. I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, a huge breakfast spread like this can get me into some trouble with my food choices– I’m talking frosting-covered pastries, oversize bagels, and chocolate chip muffins. You know what I mean, right?

A breakfast buffet (or continential breakfast), however, doesn’t have to be an unhealthy meal waiting to happen. Many of these kinds of breakfasts offer nutritious foods too, like fresh fruit, yogurt, and whole grain cereals and breads, which gives you some flexibility when you’re trying to eat healthy. Check out my tips below for selecting nutritious breakfast foods and start your day off on the right foot!

  1. Survey the scene: Before I even pour myself a cup of coffee, I check out all of the breakfast options. Is there a “hot breakfast” or just cold cereal? Are there only pastries with frosting or are is there whole grain bread or bran muffins? Once I know all of my choices, I can then make a healthy, informed decision.
  2. Seek out fresh foods: While not all buffet breakfasts offer a fresh fruit salad, most offer some sort of whole fruit. My favorite ways to enjoy whole fruit are slicing up banana to put on top of my cereal or adding peanut butter to apple slices.
  3. Pick your protein: After selecting fresh foods for my breakfast, I plan my protein option next. Protein is what will gives my breakfast some staying-power until my next meal. My favorite protein picks, often found at buffet and continental breakfasts, are low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, or peanut butter.
  4. Select whole grain carbs: Obviously, we all know to stay away from those humongous muffins and gooey chocolate pastries, but most breakfasts offer healthy carb options, like packets of instant oatmeal, Shredded Wheat cereal, whole grain bread, bran muffins, muesli, and low-fat granola.
  5. Stick with one plate: Buffet breakfasts are typically unlimited, but I don’t let myself eat this way. I start with one plate (or bowl) and make my selections accordingly. That way, I can see exactly how much food I am consuming. If I’m still hungry after I’ve finished eating my first serving, I can always go back for more.
  6. Skip the juice: Usually, the fruit juices served at continental breakfasts are loaded with sugar and lacking nutritional value. Unless the juice is freshly squeezed, I stick to coffee, tea, or water with my breakfast. A piece of whole fruit is a much more nutritious option.
  7. Take healthy snacks to go: If my continental breakfast offers lots of nutritious options, I always make sure to grab a couple of healthy snacks to go, so I’m prepared with a nutritious food option when my stomach starts to grumble later on in the day.

Tina Haupert
Carrots ‘N’ Cake
http://carrotsncake.com
Columnist, Health.com
Twitter: @carrotsncake

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