Add in protein
The best thing about protein is that it fills you up the right way, since it gives you long-lasting energy and goes straight to your muscles. While the thought of a greasy breakfast sausage or extra crispy bacon may have your mouth watering, you can get more protein with half the fat from some leaner breakfast meat options like turkey bacon or chicken sausage. Turkey bacon’s been around for years and is finally earning its rep as a lower-sodium, lower-fat alternative to traditional pork bacon. And because it is made from less fat, it shrinks less in the cooking process, meaning you actually get more food out of it! At the same time, chicken sausage contains significantly less fat and calories than regular pork sausage. Some are so delicious that you may wind up preferring the taste of chicken over pork.
Split that French toast
Unfortunately, there’s no substitute for this brunch staple, but that doesn’t mean you have to scrap it altogether. Instead of indulging in your own oversized plate of 400-500-calories-a-piece French toast, split it with a friend. Chances are, you wouldn’t be able to kill an entire restaurant-serving size yourself anyway, and if you did, you’d probably feel bloated and fatigued later in the day. Share a fruit bowl or side salad to add in some vitamins.
Swap home fries for sweet potato fries
Delicious home fries without the added grease, calories and fat? Yes, please! Sweet potatoes are a great alternative. Jam-packed with Vitamin A, potassium, antioxidant- and anti-inflammatory properties (buh-bye, post-drinking bulge!), this substitute is easier on your arteries than traditional home fries — without skimping on flavor.
Holler for whole wheat
Almost every restaurant offers whole-wheat toast nowadays, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding it. The difference between whole-wheat and white bread lies in the flour used to make the bread and the process of making it. White flour is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grains, while whole-wheat flour does not undergo that heavy processing. This refining process strips away some important nutrients from the bread, like folate, a key baby-making nutrient; riboflavin; Vitamin B1; and fiber, which helps lowers blood cholesterol and prevent constipation.
Sure, a yogurt parfait sounds appealing and can’t be too bad for you, especially if it’s loaded with fruit, right? Wrong! Most restaurants use flavored yogurts that are overly sweetened with sugar; ask for Greek yogurt instead. It has twice the protein and half the carbs of regular yogurt, and you may be saving yourself roughly the equivalent of a donut in terms of sugar count. Also, ask for granola on the side. While the oats are good for you, many brands don’t skimp on the fat and sugar, leaving you with a candy bar’s worth of the sweet stuff.
Limit your OJ intake
Orange juice is loaded with vitamins A and C and calcium. But this Florida-born drink is also loaded with sugar and carbs and will cost you around 112 calories per cup. Add to that the 100 calories in a glass of champagne for a mimosa, and you have yourself a snack’s worth of calories in just one breakfast beverage. Instead, stick with one mimosa and order a side glass of champagne if you want seconds. Ask for some fresh orange garnish and squeeze a little flavor from the fresh slice to your champagne. You’ll still be getting your “hair of the dog that bit you” fix while saving some calories for the main event—your meal!
Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.