Brunch is having a moment. Quaint eateries with brunch-focused food and beverage options seem to be popping up everywhere, and many restaurants are expanding their menus to accommodate for these special, late-morning to mid-day meals. Unlike breakfast, lunch, and dinner, an American brunch seems to be imprecise with less “rules” and generally finds its moment amidst special occasions or relaxing weekend mornings.
This out-of-the-ordinary factor can lead to poor nutritional choices and/or overindulgence, which reveals itself in a plate full of carb-loaded pastries and sugary toppings. However, I do believe in blending healthy habits with a little splurging, so I applied principles of the Mediterranean diet, which I define as more of a lifestyle than a literal diet, to a set of practical guidelines for surviving—and thoroughly enjoying—your next brunch.
Focus on the Mediterranean diet pyramid. Start your meal with fruits, vegetables, proteins, seafood, and whole grains to ensure nutrient-dense foods go down first. Beginning with a Belgian waffle with cream or chocolate chip pancakes and syrup is not the ticket. You will eat less sweet carbohydrates if you save them for the end of the meal. Look for foods that you might not normally have the ability to enjoy: seafood varieties, vegetable and salad choices, ancient grains and specialty desserts.
Be conscious of portions. Go for small tastings of desserts, carbs, and sweets, rather than taking full portions of each selection. As our mothers always said, “Our eyes are bigger than our stomach,” and we must, “finish everything on our plate.” Though it is hard to do with a large spread and all the variety of brunch, serve yourself small portions often, make more trips to the buffet, or use a smaller plate. This will help you realize what you are eating and spread out the meal.
Midday is actually a perfect time to have a large meal. As common in the Mediterranean, enjoying a “Sunday dinner” is a regular way to spend a day. Eating a sizable meal in the middle of the day allows you more time to be active. Ditch the Western notion of a big dinner and plan on a light supper that evening.
Finish with a walk. Brunch already fosters quality time among friends and family, so continue the good vibes with a stroll around the neighborhood or some leisurely window shopping.
Embrace the socialization surrounding brunch. Enjoying each others’ company and spending time at a meal with loved ones is more important than the food itself. In our hectic lives full of quick meals, brunch is the perfect time slow down.
Applying the principles of a Mediterranean diet to how we approach out meals can help optimize our health and wellness. I hope we can all enjoy brunch in the near future, savoring the food as well as the company for a lazy weekend occasion.