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Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You’re Eating Brunch

Brunch can be tricky—you may find yourself thinking, “Is this breakfast or is this lunch? Might as well eat both!” With an assortment of goodies available, especially if you are at a buffet, it is easy to fall in the trap of trying a little of this and a little of that. You may think that by combining two meals, you are saving on calories but odds are, that’s not the case. That’s why it is important not to show up too hungry. If you are going to be awake for a few hours before you head to brunch, grab a piece of fruit or a piece of whole wheat toast to hold you over so you don’t show up so famished you eat everything in sight! Instead of having breakfast AND lunch, choose one. Below is a list of popular brunch items, their approximate calorie counts and some suggestions on how you can brunch smarter.

Breakfast of “Champions” Calories
French toast (2 slices) 344
Waffles (2 large) 290
Syrup (1/4 cup) 210
Light syrup (1/4 cup) 100
Biscuit (1) 190-250
Ham and Cheese Omelet 390
Hash browns (1/2 cup) 163
Bacon (3 medium pieces) 109

What to Order :

Save calories by choosing between French toast, pancakes or waffles (not each) since they are all so similar. Make sure to choose a “light” syrup--it can save you about 100 calories per serving! Fresh fruit is always a delicious and calorie-conscious, naturally sweet topper.

When it comes to breakfast meats like bacon and sausage, again, choose one or the other. When deciding how to order your eggs, remember that it is all the additions like ham and cheese that can start to add up. Instead, choose veggies like mushrooms and peppers to add to scrambled eggs or omelets.

Let’s Do Lunch Calories
Sweet potato casserole (1 serving) 461
Tuna casserole (1 serving) 310
Quiche Lorraine (1/8 of pie) 540
Egg salad (1/3 C) 267
Tuna/Chicken salad (3 oz.) 159
Pasta salad with vegetables (3/4 cup) 140-250
Fruit salad (1 cup) 120
Fried chicken (1/2 breast) 236
Roasted Chicken Breast without skin (1/2 breast) 142
Roast Beef (3 oz.) 189
Asparagus (4 spears) 15
Fried Potato wedges (2.5-3.5 oz.) 225

What to Order :

If you decide you are more in the mood for lunch, stick with smaller portions of casseroles and quiches (which can be loaded with calories) and then load up on the fruit and veggie options. If you are at a buffet, there will likely be a wide assortment of fresh and colorful vegetables (think asparagus, peppers, squash) and nutrient-rich fruits like kiwi, oranges, strawberries and cantaloupe. When at the salad bar, choose low fat versions of salad dressings and eat smaller portions of mixed meat salads like egg, tuna and chicken salad (or choose low fat versions). As always, choose roasted or grilled chicken over fried chicken.

You can have your Cake and Eat it too!
Pecan Pie (4 oz.) 470
Chocolate cake with frosting (4 oz.) 380
Apple Pie (3-4 oz.) 280-310
Ice cream (1/2 C) 270
Frozen yogurt, low-fat (1/2 cup) 115
Flan (1/2 C) 135
Bite-size fruit tarts 50-60

What to Order :

If you decide to “splurge” and order dessert, split something or better yet, nibble on one bite-sized fruit tart, which will still leave you with a sweet taste without all the calories. If you only like your apple pie “a la mode,” get it topped with low-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, which will save you almost 150 calories!

Here is an example of how you can make lower calorie choices when eating brunch, broken into breakfast and lunch items.

Lighter Version (Breakfast) Full Calorie Version (Breakfast)
Waffles 290 French toast 344
Light syrup 100 Syrup 210
Strawberries, 1 C 45 Hash browns 163
Grits 100 Ham and cheese omelet 390
Bacon 109
Total 644 1107
Lighter Version (Lunch) Full Calorie Version (Lunch)
Roasted Chicken Breast 142 Fried Chicken 236
Fruit Salad 120 Egg salad 267
Pasta Salad 200 200 Potato wedges 225
Asparagus 15 Chocolate cake 380
Frozen Yogurt 115
Fruit Tart 55
Total 587 1108

Eating lower calorie does not necessarily mean eating less food! Notice in the above breakfast and lunch sample menus, you can actually eat slightly more on the calorie-conscious plan and still stay lower in calories by making better choices. The key is to fill up on foods that are high in nutrients and fiber (like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats), which are lower in calories and fat. Happy and healthy brunching!