Learn how to make healthier breakfast choices at a restaurant with our 6 easy tips.
In some countries, eating breakfast at a diner or restaurant every day is common. Take the USA, as an example. According to a survey conducted by Zagat Americans eat out an average of 5.9 times a week. The majority of those meals are enjoyed at breakfast or brunch times.
You see similar trends in countries like Spain, Mexico, and Thailand. Whereas in the UK, France, Germany, and Italy breakfast in a restaurant is still seen as a treat. But actually, in those countries that still translates into eating it in a restaurant at least once most weekends and several times a week during vacations.
So, use our tips below to make healthier breakfast options to fuel your brain!
Recognise high-calorie breakfast items
Eating out is a great way to start the day. But you do have to be careful. It is all too easy to get into the habit of eating most of your recommended calorie intake in just one sitting.
For example, a full stack of buttermilk pancakes is about 680 calories, add in the maple syrup and some bacon and you are looking at 1000+ calories, easy. A typical UK full English breakfast contains 807 calories. Again, adding a few extras like two pieces of bread and butter takes it above one thousand calories.
If you eat more sensibly during the rest of the day, you can still potentially stay within the recommended fat, carb, and calorie intakes. But it is hard to find the self-discipline to do so.
The majority of people find that the best approach is to eat a lighter breakfast.
Reset your restaurant mindset
For some reason when you go into a restaurant you click over into a different eating mode. Breakfast is no longer all about setting yourself up for the day.
When you go into a restaurant you are thinking of it as a treat. You are effectively setting yourself up to eat the foods that you would otherwise enjoy only occasionally. Typically, the richer, fattier options. Reminding yourself that you are there to eat a nutritious meal that will provide you with energy to get through the morning, can help you to avoid temptation.
Educate yourself about the nutrition of restaurant food
In most countries, restaurants do not yet have to tell diners about the nutritional content of the dishes that they are ordering. As a result, unsurprisingly, most don´t bother. Restaurant owners tend to see it as a lot of work. Plus, they are a bit worried that if they are open about how many calories there are in each dish, people will order less.
But as consumers become more health-conscious and food-savvy, some eateries are voluntarily sharing that information. As the use of digital menu boards for restaurants spreads it becomes easier to add and update extra information. Also, it only takes moments to add healthy seasonal dishes to their menu. Then, take them off the list when the main ingredient is no longer easily available or has soared in price.
If the diner or restaurant you eat in does not provide that information on their digital or paper menus, just ask. Some restaurants do provide servers with nutritional data. At least for the most popular dishes.
Tap into the knowledge of your server
It is also worth asking your server for their suggestions regarding healthy breakfast dishes. Some have surprisingly good knowledge about what is in the meals and a reasonable understanding of what is healthiest.
Although, it also makes sense to educate yourself about what foods are healthy and which are not. For example, many people are surprised to learn that some coffee shop bran muffins contain a huge amount of sugar and, therefore, calories.
Decide what you are going to order before going in
If you regularly have breakfast in the same restaurant, over time, you will learn what is on the menu. Therefore, it is possible to work out what you are going to order in advance.
It is a lot easier to make a healthy choice sitting in your car or at home than it is when your nostrils are full of tantalizing restaurant smells. If despite doing this you still find yourself giving into temptation when you get to the counter, try one of these two approaches:
- Ring up and place your order in advance. Just tell the person taking your order that you want it to eat in, rather than to go. Most restaurants will be extremely happy to accommodate that request.
- Write down what you are planning to order and refer to it just before you step inside the restaurant. You will be surprised by how much easier it is not to give in to temptation when you do this.
In both cases, be sure to politely hand the menu back to your server when you sit down. Not looking at the menu at all will remove another opportunity for you to give in to temptation.
Order smaller portions
Controlling the size of the portion that is put on your plate is an extremely easy way to reduce the amount of fat, carbs, sugars, and calories you eat. There are studies that reveal the strong connection between big portions and obesity.
If your breakfast normally comes with six strips of bacon and you only want four, ask the server to only bring four. Or ask them if they offer half portions.
You will be surprised by how many restaurants will happily accommodate that request. Although they may charge you a little more than half price for it to help cover static overheads like keeping the lights on. It does not feel particularly fair, but you will soon find yourself no longer worrying about it. After all, what is paying a dollar more for something compared to many more years of health?
Finally, we are going to finish by reminding you that ultimately you are in charge of what you eat. If you cannot beat the temptation to overeat when eating breakfast in a restaurant, consider eating breakfast at home, more often.
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