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The hotel breakfast buffet dilemma: Here are the rules to follow

Ruth Ninajanty
Ruth Ninajanty

Mom blogger who enjoys everyday adventure with her son

Jakarta  /  Wed, April 13, 2016  /  12:39 pm
The hotel breakfast buffet dilemma: Here are the rules to follow

The hotel breakfast buffet dilemma. (Shutterstock/ Chantal de Bruijne)

It’s one of the biggest dilemmas in my life. I wake up hungry, in a happy holiday mood, and am presented with an endless choice of food at the hotel’s breakfast buffet.

Should I start with rice as usual? Or porridge, to leave room for a second (and third) trip to the buffet?
The last time, I became well and truly trapped in the horns of the dilemma; I ended up with a bowl of warm meatball soup as a starter, followed by a bowl of heavily garnished and adorned ice cream as a main course.

So what? I’m on holiday!

My son, on the other hand, will not veer from his routine. He starts with toast, omelette or scrambled eggs, sausages and a glass of apple juice. Sometimes, as a side dish, he’ll get a bowl of cereal and milk. Sounds healthy - but is it filling?

Being Indonesian, I always offer him an extra plate of rice and side dishes, but he insists that “this is a complete breakfast, Mom”.

This thorny issue escaped my mind until shortly before our next holiday. I decided to come up with some handy guidelines, so here you go: breakfast buffet ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s.

Make sure you include protein

If you go for rice and porridge for breakfast, you’re forgetting the essentials. Egg whites, bacon, ham and dairy products are good sources of protein. So my son started off with the right food on his plate.
According to studies, protein keeps you full until lunchtime, making it an ally in the battle to keep on top of your weight, as it were.

Count your carbs

That’s not to say, of course, that you should make your plate a carb-free zone. After all, what’s a meal without rice, right? Well, if you’re looking for alternatives, bagels, bread and muffins can help you pack away enough energy for the day.

If you can’t live without carbs, go for complex ones like oatmeal or whole-grain toast. They will get you through the morning without craving anything else, while simple carbs just raise your blood glucose for a couple of hours.

End with fiber

End your meal like other meals of the day: with fruit.

According to the data published by the Health Ministry, the average fiber consumption of Indonesian is only 10.5 grams per day, far from the recommended 30 grams.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) places Indonesian as the country with the lowest fruit consumption in Southeast Asia. So, there you go – do your bit for the nation’s fruit-rankings, and include some mango, banana or durian in your morning meal. Almost all hotel buffets have a good selection of fruits.

Research points out that the best meals are those that contain a variety of food. The same goes with breakfast. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and protein should all be part of the most important meal of your day.

However, you should remember to consume them in moderation, even if you’re not counting calories, because the hardest temptation to resist comes from the fact that it’s all-you-can-eat. Even worse, it’s included in the hotel room rate - and you definitely want to eke out everything you can from the price you pay.

When I tried to persuade my son to go for a round of rice, he insisted that he had had enough. I struck back with the above argument: eating less breakfast means getting less benefit from the paid room rate.
His reply stumped me. “You’re only losing out if the hotel doesn’t have the breakfast you like,” he opined.
He is always quick to ensure that the hotel buffet has, at the very least, cereal, milk, toast and an egg station.

Now I know what should make it to the final round on my next breakfast buffet run. But as with any talent competition, there are always wild cards who make it to the end without facing the judges’ evaluation.
In my case, it was the nasi liwet I came across at a hotel in Surakarta. A local dish, served by a local woman wearing traditional local clothes. You can’t resist authenticity and, hey, rules are meant to be broken.


Mom blogger who enjoys everyday adventure with her son, Andrew. You're invited to join their dates at

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.