by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Eating out has become more and more popular in our busy lives. We all like to meet up with friends and family, eat delicious food, and maybe even partake in adult beverages like mimosas or bloody Mary’s. However, often there are no good choices when we go out to eat, especially if we’re trying to stay healthy over brunch.
With all the extra ingredients put into various breakfast and lunch meals, you might wonder if eating brunch is as healthy as it should be. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research to discover how these foods and meals can affect your diet and what you should put on your plate and what you should avoid.
Brunch Foods: What Are Some Healthy Choices?
The best brunch foods are those you can eat slowly and truly savor. They should be warm (but not hot), hearty and comforting, as well as nutritious.
Here are some of the best (and healthiest) foods that you can consume for brunch:
An omelet is an excellent choice for brunch, especially if you are trying to watch your weight. It is low in calories and high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It can be made with any meat or vegetable, but mushrooms, peppers, and onions are always good choices.
2. Bagel with Peanut Butter
This is a classic brunch food that is easy to make and easy to eat. Bagels with peanut butter are high in fiber and protein, both of which help keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time.
Peanut butter has healthy fats and protein, which also helps you feel full for longer periods of time. Peanut butter is also an excellent source of B vitamins and vitamin E, both of which help protect against heart disease and cancer.
Oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods for brunch. It is high in fiber, which keeps you full longer and helps lower cholesterol levels. Oatmeal contains no saturated fats, so it won’t raise your cholesterol levels as other breakfast foods may do.
It also contains 10 grams of protein per serving, which helps you feel full longer than other grains do. The best part about oatmeal is that you can truly customize it to your flavor by adding honey, Splenda, raisins, walnuts, and even some natural peanut butter if you wish. Use your imagination!
4. Shrimp and Grits
Don’t knock it until you try it! Shrimp and grits are among the best foods for brunch because they contain lots of nutrients, like vitamin C, B12, protein, iron, and calcium. It also contains lots of fiber which helps with digestion and improves bowel movements.
Shrimp is low in fat and sodium, making it an ideal food for those on a diet or who have high blood pressure or heart disease. Just avoid adding bacon or cheese to it, as that can add a bunch of calories during brunch if you’re trying to stick to a diet.
5. Fresh fruit
Fresh fruit is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — all things that help fight disease and slow down aging! Fresh fruit also contains water, which helps hydrate your body while filling it with nutrients at the same time. Try adding fresh berries or bananas to your oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or smoothie for a healthy brunch treat!
Brunch Foods: What Should You Stay Away From?
Avoid these foods if you want to enjoy your time at brunch and not have to constantly worry about how many calories you’re consuming:
1. Eggs Benedict
This dish is usually made with poached eggs, Canadian bacon, English muffins, hollandaise sauce, and sometimes veggies like spinach or tomato. While not a normal occurrence, eggs benedict has been linked to salmonella poisoning in the past.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria found in poultry products like chicken and eggs. It can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and other adverse effects.
2. French Toast
This breakfast favorite is packed with sugar — up to three teaspoons per slice of French toast! Opt for whole-grain bread instead of white bread and use egg whites instead of whole eggs for less fat and fewer calories if you must have some French toast during brunch.
3. Hash Browns
Hash browns are potatoes fried in oil and butter, so these delicious and yummy items that are commonly found at brunch are extremely high in calories and fat. They also contain very little nutritional value besides vitamin C and potassium. For an alternative, try having fresh fruit instead of hash browns at brunch.
4. Pancakes and Waffles
Pancakes or waffles are not the best brunch foods. The reason is that they are high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, which can lead to an insulin spike and then a crash. This can leave you feeling tired and irritable, which is not what you want when you’re out celebrating with friends. It may be tempting to load up these mouthwatering items, but if you’re trying to eat clean and stick to your diet, avoid pancakes and waffles during brunch.
5. Fried Foods
It should come as no surprise, but fried foods are high in calories and fat content (but they sure taste good, right?). They also contain trans fats, which are known to increase bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels. This may lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Therefore, it is best to avoid fried foods when eating brunch as these food items are unhealthy for your heart health and don’t supply your body with any real worthwhile nutrients.