Healthy Ordering Restaurants – Breakfast

6 Jun

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Quite some time ago we wrote a post all about how to order the healthiest dinner options when you are at a restaurant (to read it click here). We decided it was about time we did the same thing for breakfast!

As you know, we like to eat as healthy as possible. That can be a very challenging task when we in a restaurant because for the most part the items on the menu and the way the food is prepared is not as healthy as it can be. So what do we do? Well, we modify our orders to suit our wants and needs. Some people may think this is too intense, or unnecessary, but at the end of the day you are the one sitting down and paying for the meal, so you should be allowed to have some say in what’s put in front of you. Just remember to ask politely!

This post will go through some of the ways you can ensure that your breakfast is as healthy as possible!

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Before going to the restaurant…

Before we go out to eat somewhere we check out the menu online first. Again with the planning, I know! But it really does help. Most restaurants post their menus online and some even have a section on their website where they list the nutritional information. If you go check it out ahead of time, you will be able to go into the meal with some sort of game plan and be better equipped to make healthy choices.

When ordering….

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you are wondering how something is made or what it is cooked in, don’t be afraid to speak up. You have every right to be informed about what you are putting in to your body! A lot of foods at restaurants are cooked in butter, have sugar added to them and are high in sodium – even healthy foods may be prepared in unhealthy ways. So the more you know the better!

Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you out when ordering breakfast…

Eggs

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When you go out to a restaurant for breakfast, eggs are definitely a staple. Whether they are scrambled, sunny side up, poached or over easy- they will be on the menu. Eggs are a great source of protein, so if you’re looking for a healthy breakfast, we suggest you include them. Personally, we don’t often eat the egg yolks and that’s because the yellow of the egg contains cholesterol. Some restaurants will serve you egg whites – so ask and see if that is an option. If it is not, don’t be discouraged, we have the perfect trick! Order your eggs over hard (apparently that’s a thing!) and when you get your eggs, cut out the yellow and put it to the side. Voila- egg whites!

Eggs in restaurants are also normally cooked in oil or butter – and you never know how much of it will be used. If this is something you want to avoid, go for poached or hard boiled eggs instead of fried.

Omelets

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Although omelets are made with eggs, we thought they deserved their own little section. We love omelets- the eggs are an excellent source of protein and you will get vitamins and minerals from the veggies. Again, ask your server to see if they will make you an egg white omelet – it’s not usually on the menu as an option but a lot of places now will make them for you. As for the other ingredients in your omelet, we recommend getting as many veggies as you can in there and skipping the cheese. We never make our omelets with cheese, so we know it can be done!

Breads

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Toast is almost always a “sides” option when you are going out for breakfast. If you are going to order toast, we recommend going with a whole wheat/grain toast over white. Another trick to making your breakfast as healthy as possible is to ask for your toast without butter or “dry”. If you don’t – it will absolutely come loaded with the stuff! Butter is not good for you…its basically just eating fat…so steer clear! You will also be brought 2 slices of toast…so if you are looking to make a healthier choice, ask for just the 1 slice instead. You probably don’t need that second slice anyways, but if it’s on your plate you will most likely eat it. And if you don’t, well then you are just wasting food! You can eat your toast plain, with a tiny bit of jam or peanut butter (but keep in mind there is sugar added to them!) OR you can make yourself a little egg white sandwich ;).

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Bagels are also normally on breakfast menus…but if you are going to have a starchy carb with your meal, we suggest going for toast over a bagel. A bagel is the equivalent of 6 slices of bread….in our opinion; you don’t need 6 slices of bread in one sitting. We recommend not ordering a bagel at all -especially if it is going to come with a pound of cream cheese on top.

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Croissants are another classic breakfast food (along with other pastries). But basically a croissant is butter. And you know how we feel about butter. So, if you are presented with the option for a croissant or toast, we suggest going for the toast .

Meats

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Now we may be slightly bias when it comes to meats because we do not eat pork of beef…and those are normally the only meat options when you go out to a restaurant for breakfast. The options you will be presented with will be 3 different processed meats: bacon, sausage, ham.

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Let’s start with the bacon. About 68% of bacon’s calories come from fat, and about half of that is saturated fat. Saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.  Because bacon is a cured meat, it is high in sodium and contains nitrate (a preservative). There are about 60 calories per slice, but add on some more because your bacon with be fried in oil and butter. Not to mention I am sure you will be served more than one slice! If you are still going to order bacon here are some options to make it “healthier”. You can order just one slice of it, cut off any excess fat that’s one the bacon, and use a napkin to blot it which will help take away some of the grease. There are other “bacon” options that are a bit better for you such as turkey or chicken bacon, so before ordering check to see if either of those is an option.

You may think to yourself, “I need sausages because they are a good source of protein.”

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The truth is that the quality of the meat isn’t great in most breakfast sausages, as they are highly processed and high in fat. Most breakfast sausages are made from pork. Pork sausages are high in both saturated fat and cholesterol – both of which should be avoided. Like bacon, you rarely have just one breakfast sausage, which means more fat and cholesterol… not to mention a ton of sodium! Personally we try to avoid sausages of any kind as they are highly processed… who knows what’s really in them?

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Lastly, the ham. Because ham is a cut off pork, we know it’s going to be high in fat. In some cases, nearly half the calories in a serving of breakfast ham comes from the fat!… not good. Like it’s breakfast meat counterparts, ham is high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium – all of which should be avoided. Ham isn’t AS processed as other meats like sausages, however, it’s high fat content make it something that should be avoided.

If you are a die-hard meat eater and need meat with your breakfast, then we recommend watching the portions. If you know your plate will come with 3 pieces of bacon, ask for 1 instead. If you want the meat because you want the protein, keep in mind that the eggs you are going to order are a great source of protein and they are not processed like these breakfast meats.

Because of the high quality protein found in the eggs, you can always substitute the meat for a cup of fruit!!!

Home Fries & Hash Browns

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Home fries and hash browns are potatoes that have been fried in different ways. If you read our post about ordering a healthy dinner in a restaurant, you may remember that “fried” was one of the words we told you to watch out for. The same thing applies here. There isn’t any way that we could think of to change up either of these things to make them healthier -other than not eating them with ketchup or any additional salt. You can always see if the restaurant can make you a baked potato if you really want one…or you can skip it all together and replace it with something else like fruit! 😉

Pancakes, Waffles & French Toast

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If you are not going for a classic egg breakfast, chances are you will be going for one of these instead. If you are not making these yourself, you won’t be able to change the way that they are made – but one thing in your control is what goes on top of them. We suggest ordering them without any butter, whip cream or any other unhealthy topping them may come with. See if they have a natural maple syrup (meaning no Aunt Jemima) and just use a tiny bit. Another great option is to ask for a side of fresh berries so you can put them on top-mmmmm!

Beverages

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Juices are normally loaded with added sugar, so although you think because you are having orange juice with your breakfast you have made a healthy choice- that’s probably not the case. If you do want to order juice, ask the server if it has any added sugar, if it does, we recommend sticking with water.

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Coffee and tea are other classic breakfast beverages. If you are ordering coffee or tea, try to drink them black or with a little bit of milk. At first you may not like the taste of black coffee or tea, but it will grow on you we promise! I am sure the first time you had a cup of coffee you weren’t lovin it right away – it is an acquired taste. The same applies to drinking it black. When you add cream, milk and sugar to your coffee you are adding many empty calories.

Other Tips…

Here are a few other suggestions we recommend

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  • Don’t add salt before tasting your food. There is almost always salt added to your food already, so you probably don’t need to add more. OR even better, ask if they can use less salt!
  • Watch your portions – if you know that the restaurant services large portions ask for less, or bring leftovers home. Contrary to what your parents may have told you as a child, you do not need to finish everything on your plate.

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  • Make substitutions. We can almost guarantee that the restaurant will have fruit. So if you are looking to give your meal a makeover, sub one of the unhealthy options for a bowl of fruit. You know the veggies they use in omelets? Well, perhaps they will let you have a side of those – it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  • Share! If you are out with other people and you can’t decide on what you want, have everyone order different things and share your meals.
  • Go for quality! Do some research and look for quality breakfast spots in your area. They are the places that will most likely use fresh ingredients, have more options and be more willing to make substations for you.
  • Make it special. Going out for breakfast (or any meal for that matter) doesn’t have to be something that you do all the time. Make it something you do every so often so that when you do go, you won’t feel as guilty treating yourself. Your wallet and your waist line will thank you!

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  • Choose 1 splurge. You don’t need to have bacon, with a cream cheese bagel, home fries, chocolate milk and a side of pancakes with whip cream and syrup. If you know that you want to have bacon, keep the rest of the meal light and healthy.

As we said in our dinner post, when you go out to eat part of the experience is having someone else prepare a meal for you. Since you are not making it yourself, or standing in the kitchen watching the Chef prepare it – you won’t know everything that’s in it. For the most part no typical meal out with be 100% healthy – but if this is something you only do every once and awhile, that’s okay! This post is intended to help you learn some new tips and tricks for little changes you can make to your meal to make them healthier- we hope it helped!

S & L

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