Is a Continental Breakfast Healthy?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2019
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A continental breakfast can be healthy if the meal items are carefully chosen. The traditional European continental breakfast isn't considered healthy as it's usually pastries and fruit. If a small granola bar is substituted for pastry and is eaten with fresh fruit plus protein and dairy, the continental style of breakfast can become healthier.

Some hotels have European style pastry continental breakfasts, while others serve fatty meats in addition to cereal choices. It's worth asking about the hotel or motel breakfast when making reservations. Having a small fridge in the room can help guests store healthy breakfast and snack choices such as milk, non-fat yogurt, fruit juices, low fat cheese, and peanut butter. Healthy whole grain cereal, granola bars, and fresh fruit can be kept in the room to be used with the refrigerated food items.

It's important to be wary of continental breakfast foods that look healthier than they actually are. For example, bagels contain about 400 calories, which for many people is close to their calorie amount for an entire breakfast. A half of a whole wheat bagel can be considered a healthy choice, but it may not be as filling as two slices of grainy toast. Whole wheat rolls are a healthy substitute for fat laden croissants.


While a smaller bran muffin can be a healthy addition to a continental breakfast, large muffins may have fat, sugar, and calorie amounts that are more equivalent to cakes than healthy muffins. Granola is a nutritious food since it contains whole oats and nuts, yet it should be only eaten in small amounts because of its high fat content. Rather than eating large bowls of it with milk at a continental breakfast, topping non-fat yogurt with a small amount of granola with nuts is a great way to get needed nutrition. Eating smaller amounts means that the fat content won't be too high. Having a small granola bar is another alternative.

Vegetable juice is a healthy beverage choice that is offered at some hotel or motel continental breakfasts. It can also be stored in an in-room fridge. Vegetable juices are usually tomato-based and contain many other vegetables such as carrots and spinach. Both fruit and vegetable juices without any sugar additives are considered nutritious, but fresh whole fruits and vegetables have more fiber. Having a piece of fresh fruit along with some vegetable juice can be a healthy accompaniment to a continental breakfast.


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Post 5

My job requires me to travel a lot, so I eat more breakfasts in hotels than I would like.

Most of the conference hotels I stay in offer a full breakfast. This includes some cooked foods such as eggs, bacon, french toast, and biscuits and gravy. There is always a selection of fresh fruit too.

They also have the assorted donuts, muffins and bagels that a lot of people like as well.

Since I am in meetings most of the day, I like to start out with a big breakfast. This really helps me concentrate on my work instead of listening to my stomach rumble and growl all morning long.

A continental breakfast can be healthy as long as they offer you healthy choices. If they are just going to put out some donuts to grab on the go, I don't consider that a healthy breakfast.

Post 4

I very seldom eat breakfast, so this is something I don't usually worry about when I travel. As long as I have my coffee in the morning, I am good to go.

If the hotel happens to have a continental breakfast, I will often grab some yogurt or a granola bar to eat a little later in the morning. If they don't have anything, it is not a big deal to me.

In my experience, it seems like the cheap motels mostly have the unhealthy, sugary breakfast choices. If you stay at a motel that is a little higher end, you usually get a lot more variety and healthy items to choose from.

Post 3

I think many of the continental breakfast hotels are beginning to offer healthier choices.

It seems like the only choices used to be pastries and juice. Lately, I have been able to get fresh fruit, yogurt, cold cereal and hot oatmeal.

One hotel that I like to stay at when we travel also has hard boiled eggs. I put this in the microwave to warm it up. When I eat this along with a piece of whole wheat toast and some juice, I feel much better than eating donuts and muffins.

I agree that getting a breakfast that has enough protein is an important way to start the day. Sugar only leaves you hungry and grouchy within a matter of an hour or two.

Post 2

@jennythelib - Those are good tips when they are available! You just can't trust an advertised "free continental breakfast," unfortunately; sometimes the only options are pastries and muffins, none of them whole wheat, with no whole fruit available. If you are at all health-conscious, you simply have to bring your own supplies to augment. A protein-rich granola bar is a good start; a banana is awesome if you can get your hands on one; and I agree with you about peanut butter - small travel-size peanut butters are worth their weight in gold!

I've discovered the wisdom of the protein breakfast. My son, who's now ten, would always get bratty Christmas afternoon. But we started off his day with cinnamon rolls and then put candy in his stocking! Now, we make sausage and eggs for breakfast and the difference is really noticeable. Without the blood sugar crash, he's much more pleasant to be around all day.

Post 1

The biggest problem with continental breakfast is that it's almost all carbs if what you have is a muffin, bagel, etc. with coffee and/or juice. Even if what you have is whole wheat and you eat fruit with it, you're missing out on protein.

A good kick of protein in the morning is really helpful to keeping you feeling full until lunchtime; it helps regular your blood sugar. If there is cereal and milk, the milk will have some protein, but a hardboiled egg is even better. Or peanut butter for your toast or bagel!

Remember, "healthy" isn't just about what the fat and calories in your meal; it's also about the nutrients and how you feel afterwards.

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