Healthy Choices at a Breakfast Buffet

Basket of bagels in a lunch buffet
A close-up of selections at a breakfast buffet. (Image: John Bouma/iStock/Getty Images)

Breakfast eaters tend to have improved productivity, memory and concentration throughout the day when compared to those who skip breakfast, according to the American Dietetic Association. Furthermore, consuming a healthy breakfast may help promote weight control. A breakfast buffet may seem like a great way to satisfy the entire family and get everyone to eat breakfast. However, if you are not careful, you can easily overindulge and consume hundreds of extra calories.

Fruit and Fruit Juice

Opt for whole fresh fruit or fruit salad, as they are both sources of many essential nutrients including vitamin C, folate, potassium and dietary fiber. The majority of fruits are low-calorie, low-fat options. Watch out for syrupy fruit toppings, as they tend to contain a lot of added sugar.

Drinking 100 percent fruit juice can be a healthy option at the breakfast buffet as well. Just remember not to consume more than one small glass, as calories can add up quickly. Fruit juice lacks the fiber found in fresh fruit, so it will not help you remain full as long.

Eggs and Other Lean Proteins

Egg whites are fat-free and cholesterol-free, whereas the egg yolk contains a high amount of cholesterol (Reference 4). Many breakfast buffets have an omelet station that will, if you request it, prepare an egg-white omelet. Load up on the veggies, and skip the sausage, bacon and cheese. Even whole eggs can still be a healthy choice, as the yolk is an excellent source of choline. Try to limit yourself to one whole egg, but you can consume additional egg whites. Instead of bacon or sausage, opt for either lean ham or Canadian bacon to satiate your meat craving.

Breads and Cereals

Opt for whole-grain breakfast items, such as oatmeal, 100 percent whole-wheat breads and cereals, and muesli whenever possible. Whole grains provide more fiber than their refined counterparts. Watch out for granola; it may seem like a healthy option, but it is often packed with calories from added sugars and fat. Skip the pastries, muffins and croissants, as they are high in less healthy fats.

Dairy

Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products, as these are a good source of lean protein. Dairy products are also rich in calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Good options include nonfat yogurt, skim or 1 percent milk, and nonfat cottage cheese. Other dairy products including whole milk, cream and cheese are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can negatively impact your health. Regular consumption of large amounts of saturated fats can increase the LDL, "bad" cholesterol, levels in the bloodstream, increasing your risk of heart disease.

Condiments and Spreads

Cottage cheese and jams make great alternatives to butter to spread on your toast. Use fresh berries or sugar-free syrups in place of regular syrup. Condiments and spreads can turn a healthy meal choice into a high-calorie one.

Small Portions

At the breakfast buffet, monitoring portion size is key. When deciding how much of a food item to put on your plate, remember, half the plate should be fruits or vegetables, one-quarter grains or starchy vegetables, and the last quarter should be protein. Also, opt for the smaller appetizer-size plate, as larger plates encourage overeating. Sitting far from the buffet table can help control your urge to take multiple trips up to the buffet line, as well.

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