If you are a regular at Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Orange Julius, Auntie Anne’s or the like, you may want to know that some breakfast options served at these restaurants are better than others. While your breakfast at these places may not be as healthy as the one you could prepare at home, still you can get close to it.

Do eat breakfast

Skipping breakfast is not a good idea because:

You may rationalize that because you didn’t have breakfast you can allow yourself to have more calories during the day.

Research shows that people who eat breakfast have an easier time maintaining weight loss over the long term.

If you take diabetes medication that can cause low blood sugar, not having breakfast can cause hypoglycemia.

So, if your choice for breakfast is a fast food restaurant, try to follow these guidelines:


If you drink coffee in the mornings, order coffee without a lot of added cream, whole milk, or sugar which add fat and empty calories. Fancy coffees and tea, in the larger sizes can have 300 – 400 calories.

Use a sugar substitute. The restaurant will probably offer three choices: Splenda, Equal, and Sweet ‘N’ Low. Ask if they carry Stevia, a more natural sugar substitute. They may not have it, but if enough people ask for it, eventually they may make it available to customers.

If you don’t feel comfortable with the choices the restaurant offers, get into the habit of carrying with you a couple of Stevia envelopes.

Another healthy alternative will be herbal tea. Most restaurants now carry different kinds of herbal tea bags without caffeine. Try not to use sugar with herbal tea.


Bagels are popular at breakfast time. Plain bagels contain very little fat unless they contain cheese. Of course, bagels become high in fat and calories when we stuff them with high fat cream cheese or spread.

The problems with bagels is that every day they get bigger and bigger and most bagels served at fast food restaurants for breakfast can be equal to four or five slices of bread.

Bagels in most bagel shops average 250 – 350 calories. Eat half of it to control your carbohydrate intake. Choose light cream cheese; although is not free of calories, they have less than the regular version. Even when the cream cheese is a light version, do not spread too much on your bagel.

See if jam or jelly is an option. Jam or jellies have no fat and just a small amount of carbs. Don’t use too much of it. Order bagel spreads on the side so that you can control how much you use.


Croissants are very high in fat by nature –that is how bakers get the puffy and flaky texture that makes them so delicious. Adding bacon, sausage, cheese or meats with a lot of fat only adds insult to injury.


Donuts are high in fat, although if you get a small size it may not be as bad as other choices.


Biscuits are loaded with fat. When you stuff them with sausage, bacon, eggs, and or cheese you already have your allotment of fat for the day. Keep in mind that the fat in biscuits probably includes also your daily allotment of saturated fat and trans fats.


When choosing a breakfast sandwich, choose ham, egg, or cheese. Pass on the bacon or sausage. Order a sandwich on a bagel or roll, not on a high-fat croissant or buiscuit.

Read the fine print when you see the words “low-fat”, “fat-free”, or “sugar-free”. These phrases don’t mean that there are no calories or no carbohydrate in the food. In fact, some of these foods can contain more carbohydrates and calories than the regular food.


Muffins are often a better choice than some donuts or bagels loaded with fat. But as bagels, they can be huge. Consider eating just half of it and choose a high-fiber type. If you use butter, order it on the side.

Another option you may have at these type of restaurants is cold or hot cereal; when available, order cereal with low fat milk. Whole oats is an excellent choice if you have that option.

Final word

As you can see, some choices are better than others. Most fast food restaurants can provide you with written information on the calories, fat, carbohydrates, sodium, etc. of the items they serve. Ask for that information; do not have breakfast in the dark.


I am Andy Carpenter and I would start by saying that I have a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition Science conferred by California State University, Los Angeles and that I am certified as a Registered Dietitian.

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