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Healthy Choices at the Breakfast Buffet

Hotel Breakfast BuffetIf you are a business traveler, your elite status may get you access to the club floor for breakfast. If not, a lot of hotels offer a breakfast buffet as a quick and convenient option for most of their guests. Even the lower-end brands include a free breakfast buffet in the morning. These buffets can be a great way to ensure that you get a well-balanced breakfast into your day, but if you aren’t careful, you could be doing more damage than good for a healthy diet on the road.

Whether you are staying at the Four Seasons or are hunkering down at the Super 8, make healthy choices at the breakfast buffet with these tips:

  1. Fruit: Load up on fresh, whole fruit at the breakfast buffet. Whole fruit provides tons of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber to keep you full and satiated throughout the morning. Avoid fruit cocktail and juice, as these tend to be high in sugar and low in fiber.
  2. Yogurt: Yogurt can be high in sugar. Look for plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt, or better yet, plain low-fat Greek yogurt. Add some fresh fruit and a bit of dry cereal to the yogurt to round out the nutrition and flavor.
  3. Pastries and Bread: Most pastries on the buffet are not healthy. This includes croissants, muffins, donuts, danish, pancakes, waffles, amongst others. They are made with refined flour and tend to be high in sugar. Avoid white bread or other breads made with refined flour, and instead, choose whole wheat or whole grain bread whenever possible. Bagels are generally made with refined flour, and can be up to 4 servings of bread per bagel. As a result, it is best to avoid these altogether.
  4. Cold Cereal: Stay clear of cereals with added sugar. If the cereal comes in a box, look at the package to see how much sugar is in the cereal. You want to choose cereals that are high in fiber and low in sugar (aim for no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving). Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Grape Nuts, and muesli are all good options. Some other brands you might see include Kashi and Nature’s Path, both of which tend to be okay, however, they do tend to have a bit of added sugar so read the label carefully.
  5. Hot Cereal: If hot oatmeal (non-instant) is an option, this is usually a better option than cold cereal, due to its high fiber content. Ask the attendant if the oatmeal is made with water. Oatmeal made with whole milk tends to be high in saturated fat. Add fresh or dried fruit and nuts to make it well-balanced. Lastly, add some cinnamon for a nice, subtly sweet flavor.
  6. Eggs: The healthiest egg option is poached, as it requires no oil to prepare. However, most people don’t really like poached eggs and a lot of hotels don’t serve them. On buffets, is a matter of fact, you are most likely going to see pre-made scrambled eggs, and possibly pre-made omelets. These don’t usually taste very good, and can often be made from a “mix.” If possible, order an omelet at the omelet station (if there is one) and request that they use no butter and very little oil. If there isn’t an omelet station, look for hard-boiled eggs or ask the waitstaff if they can make eggs fresh. If you tend to have high cholesterol and eat eggs regularly, ask for egg whites, as egg yolks are high in cholesterol.
  7. Skip the Potatoes: Breakfast potatoes are usually fried and oily, not to mention high in calories. To keep the calories low and the fat to a minimum, ask for fresh sliced tomato instead. This is actually a popular swap out that many hotels accommodate.
  8. Bacon and Sausage: Smoked and cured meats are generally high in fat and high in sodium. Ask the attendants if they have Canadian bacon or ham, which tend to be much leaner.

Eating breakfast is a healthy way to start your day. How do you make healthier choices at the breakfast buffet at the hotel?

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