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Written by The Nutrition Twins
Although you may assume that healthy menu items like oatmeal and veggie omelets are the way to go for morning meals, they may actually secretly sabotage your waistline. The key to keeping your choice low-cal is to know how to order it. Even we–a couple of experts trained to recognize possible food pitfalls–have noticed how easy it is to get tricked. Here’s how to avoid getting hoodwinked by two seemingly healthy choices.
1. Oatmeal and a Hard-Boiled Egg
What makes it great: Oatmeal is high in fiber and low in fat. It’s heart healthy and is an unprocessed whole grain that’s a great source of energy revving carbohydrates. Coupled with some protein from the egg, you’d think you can’t go wrong…
Why it can sabotage: Large portion size and preparation method
Last weekend Lyssie strayed from her usual veggie egg white omelet order in lieu of this. When her meal came, the portion was so large (about 2-1/2 cups of oatmeal–more than twice as much as a standard serving) that the calories soared above 500. Add the hard-boiled egg and it was a 600 calorie breakfast, roughly three times higher in calories than the serving of oatmeal and egg you’d have at home. You could have had two pancakes with syrup and butter for fewer calories! Keep in mind that if the brunch restaurant uses whole milk and butter, or sugary toppings, the number of calories only grows.
How to keep it lean: Request a small cup of oatmeal rather than a bowl, or don’t be afraid to ask for a doggy bag and take half of it home. Also request it be made with skim or 1% milk.
2. Veggie and Egg-White Omelet
What makes it great: This is our personal brunch go-to meal, and we love it! One egg white is only 15 calories and 4 grams of protein. So you can get a large, satiating protein-packed egg dish for less than 150 calories. The veggies add nutrients and fiber to help to fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied. We opt for a side of fruit or a slice of whole grain toast to round out the meal with healthy, energy-boosting carbohydrates. This meal is a power meal—and all for about 250 to 300 calories.
Why it can sabotage: The preparation method and ingredient add-ons
Restaurants cook omelets in oil or butter—and they often sauté the veggies in oil or butter too before adding them to the omelet. Just 2 tablespoons of oil pack 250 calories. It’s not uncommon to get 300 or more calories from the oil or butter alone—more than the meal itself! Another possible saboteur? Cheese. Skip it and the 300 or more calories it adds. Instead add a teaspoon of grated parmesan on top for 20 calories.
How to Keep it Lean: Ask that your eggs are cooked “dry, without butter or oil”. Request that they use spray in the pan or nothing—usually there’s plenty of oil on the grill left behind from the person’s meal before you that they don’t need to add any grease. Note: It’s okay if you prefer to have the whole egg rather than just the egg white, just know you’ll get anywhere from 100 to 300 calories more depending on how many eggs they use.
Tell us: What do you order at brunch?
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For a Get Healthy Guide, check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!