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Updated by Spa Index Guide to Spas on Aug 18, 2018
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STAY HEALTHY ON THE ROAD! A Nutritionist's Tips for Navigating the Breakfast Buffet

How to eat healthy when traveling and navigating continental breakfasts is an important wellness tool. Breakfast is the most important daily meal, and starting with a healthy one will set the tone for the rest of the day. Spa Index Guide to Spas and Emily Fonnesbeck, RD CD, who provides nutrition services to a popular weight loss spa resort, shares their tips for making the best choices from breakfast buffets common in hotels. Choose from the list of best options, try to steer clear from the mediocre options, and, avoid the worst options all together, to guarantee a nutritious day during your travels.

Source: https://spaindex.com/

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BEST CHOICES - Enjoy!

BEST CHOICES - Enjoy!

These foods on typical free breakfast buffets are going to be your best bet. Choose from these items, first.

  • Fruit – bananas, apples, oranges and grapefruit
  • Whole grain cereals – Cheerios™ or bran flakes
  • Whole grain toast, English muffin or bagel
  • Plain oatmeal
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Peanut butter
  • Low fat string cheese or cottage cheese
  • Skim milk
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MEDIOCRE CHOICES - Skip

MEDIOCRE CHOICES - Skip

If you don't find the skim and lower fat protein options listed above, these are the next best bet. They are not the best options for fueling your day, so skip if you can.

  • Sugary Yogurt (typically hotels stock artificially sweetened brands)
  • Fruit juice or juice cocktail
  • Prepared eggs (trays of instant scrambled eggs usually have preservatives, butter, oil and cheese)
  • Sweetened cereals
  • Waffles or pancakes
  • White toast, bagels or English muffins
  • Instant or sweetened oatmeal
  • 2% milk
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POOR CHOICES - Avoid

POOR CHOICES - Avoid

Pastry Baskets -- they may look pretty, but they don't always taste great. Unless you're in a high end resort, a free breakfast buffet has commercial low-quality baked goods. Nothing worth spending the calories on.

  • Donuts
  • Pastries
  • Muffins
  • Waffles
  • Sausages, ham or bacon
  • Biscuits
  • Gravy
  • Cream cheese, jams and butter
  • Whole milk
  • Chocolate milk
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GET CREATIVE

GET CREATIVE

Combining some of the best choices will give you complete meals. For example, spread peanut butter on your whole grain English muffininstead of butter or jam — and add fruit. In any situation, you are going to have an unwise choice, a mediocre choice and a best choice. Just remember to steer toward the better choice. That is all you can ask of yourself!

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PACK WISELY

PACK WISELY

Don’t rely on the hotel’s free breakfast for menu planning. Pack your own shelf-stable foods, and make use of the in-room refrigerator to keep hard boiled eggs, string cheese, whole fruit, and other good choices, on hand.

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PORTION GUIDELINES

PORTION GUIDELINES

Always try to fill your breakfast plate at least 1/2 full with fruits and vegetables, 1/4 with whole grains and 1/4 with lean protein. If you don't have access to a made-to-order breakfast or healthy breakfast buffet, and you have a not terribly impressive contentinenal breakfast buffet, try to choose based on our best choices, skip the mediocre choices, and avoid the poor choices.

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IS IT BREAKFAST OR IS IT LUNCH?

IS IT BREAKFAST OR IS IT LUNCH?

Flip your thinking about "what's for breakfast" and "what's for lunch." Breakfast doesn't need to mean pancakes, waffles, eggs and bacon, and in fact, many countries outside of the United States focus on a savory breakfast, and eschew some of the sugary treats so common in the USA, saving those for desserts. Try to emulate this good thinking, and load up on healthy proteins and savory soups as your first meal of the day.

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FREE DOESN'T MEAN GREAT

FREE DOESN'T MEAN GREAT

It's tempting to take advantage of a free breakfast buffet "because hey, I paid for it" -- right? Remember that a free breakfast isn't necessarily a GOOD breakfast. Unless you're fortunate enough to be in a spectacular spa resort or a hotel committed to health, wellness and a world-class guest experience, the options given to you will be sourced from inferior products or warehouse bulk buy style stores. Most of these inexpensive convenience foods will be loaded with preservatives, sugars and fats, and seldom taste great. You paid for your share -- but you don't need to take those items. Instead, reach for anything really perishable. The bananas, the grapes, the yogurt -- will always be better tasting and better for you, than the stale pastries which came out of a plastic wrapper.