Continental breakfast : what to choose from the spread ?

As they say that one should “Eat breakfast like a king”, the huge spread of a continental breakfast surely makes us feel like one. Most hotels offer free continental breakfast with the room bookings as it is a very attractive proposition for guests. Since breakfast is the first meal of the day after almost 8-10 hours of fasting, it feels great to have variety of options to choose from. At the same time, it is important to make prudent choices so as to give a right start to the day.

Origin of the continental breakfast

The origin of continental breakfast is European and not American. The traditional breakfast in an American household in the early 1800s consisted of meat, eggs, cereal, bread, fruits along with jams, maple syrup and butter. This huge breakfast spread provided the much needed calories for American farmer families . However, later as newer occupations evolved, the need for calories also declined.

Simultaneously, continental Europeans who were traveling around the world introduced their food preferences into the different communities. The traditional English breakfast had sausage and bacon, eggs, fried bread, sliced fresh tomato and baked beans.

After a while, the French modified the traditional British breakfast to finally include only selected items such as coffee or tea, pastry and fruit. This came to be known as the continental breakfast in 1855.

So the current continental breakfast is a grand spread of almost all of the above.

Components of continental breakfast

  • Egg: Boiled, scrambled or omelette.
  • Meat: This usually includes bacon, ham and sausages
  • Baked beans
  • Cereal: Oats porridge , corn flakes, or grits (in earlier times)
  • Baked products : breads, cakes, pancakes with maple syrup, croissants, buns, biscuits, cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts, puffed pastry , rolls, etc
  • Fruit: Fresh fruits (whole/cut)
  • Vegetables: Fried potatoes, baked tomatoes
  • Tea or coffee , milk

Order of the meal

If we exclude the bakery products, rest of it is indeed quite healthy and wholesome.

One must start with fruits and vegetables as they will be easy on the stomach which is just about getting ready to receive food.  Also, these will offer the much need nutrients and freshness to cells that have been starving overnight.

It can be followed by meat, eggs or beans as they are all great sources of complete proteins which can give a right start to metabolism and provide satiety. These foods will help to keep you alert and feel less hungry throughout the day.

Next up can be the porridge or milk with muesli as they contain complex carbohydrates which again keep you satiated for longer and also improve digestion. Instead of milk base, if one chooses to have curd or yogurt then it is even better as the probiotics coming from these will be great for the gut and to enhance immunity.
While there are so many options in a continental breakfast, one has to be careful about making healthy choices. Of course, when you are really hungry early in the morning, you are most likely to lay your hands on the pastries, rolls or cupcakes. Extreme hunger ruins your ability to think practically or make wise judgement. These foods can satisfy hunger but surely do not boost your metabolism. Overdoing the bakery products can in fac make you feel lazy, lethargic and hungry throughout the day.

The whole purpose of breakfast is to boost your physical and mental capacities to improve work performance, so chose your breakfast wisely!


Author: drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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