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Nutrition Smarts

Dine Out Smart...Breakfast

More and more, Americans are dining out for breakfast. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, about 11 percent of morning meals are eaten out and six percent are eaten on the go - double the rate of a decade ago.

Having a wholesome breakfast gives you a nutritional head start on the whole day. By eating foods that are high in fiber and carbohydrates but low in fat, you get your metabolism moving faster.

"My brother Jim used to preach: Eat a breakfast fit for a king, lunch like a common man and dinner like a pauper before the sun sets," said spa chef Bill Wavrin. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."

Here are some key tips to help you make healthy choices when you're eating out for breakfast.

Eggscellent Start

Eggs - scrambled, fried, poached, boiled or in omelets - are the ultimate breakfast food. Eggs are rich in protein, B vitamins, iron and other minerals. But they are also loaded with cholesterol, all from the yolk. Eating a single egg puts you close to the recommended daily limit for cholesterol.

If you're having eggs, round out your breakfast with heart-healthy selections like fruits and whole grains. You can also order egg whites or egg substitutes, which don't have any cholesterol but provide protein, vitamins and minerals. Learn more about eggs and cholesterol.

Go Whole Grain

Whole - wheat toast, oatmeal, buckwheat pancakes and grits are some of the good-for-you, whole grain options you'll find on the breakfast menu in many restaurants.

Whole grain foods are super nutritious, low in fat and can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and help you maintain a healthy weight. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating at least three servings of whole grains each day. A serving is about the same as a slice of bread or a cup of dry cereal.

Restaurants often offer oatmeal as a breakfast repast. This warming, stick-to-your-ribs dish is really healthful. Some cold cereals also contain whole grains, check the food label or ask your server. Buckwheat pancakes are increasingly popular. Maple syrup, blueberries and bananas are excellent compliments to the hearty flavor of buckwheat.

Fruitful Dishes

Fruit is another standard on the restaurant breakfast menu to take advantage of. Fruit is a goldmine of vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants.

Grapefruit halves, melon slices and seasonal fruit cups are frequent, flavorful options. You can often order yogurt topped with fruit or granola topped with fruit. Remember, it is better to eat your fruit rather than drink it, because you get more fiber that way.

Load up on Calcium

Breakfast is a good meal to get your calcium. Fat-free or low fat milk or milk-based foods are a terrific source of the mighty mineral, which plays an important role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

Coffee drinks like café au lait, cappuccino and café latte are made with lots of milk. Eat a bowl of cereal swimming in milk or order a yogurt. Smoothies can be another calcium-rich option. Everyone should aim to consume three cups a day, according to the dietary guidelines.


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