Brunch is a verb; you don’t go to brunch, you DO brunch. And nobody does brunch better than my family. We may workout like fools, but damn do we know how to eat — especially if it’s a holiday or birthday. For Easter this year my parents and I drove to the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel and indulged in the hotel’s Easter brunch buffet: no time limit, bottomless mimosas (in my case, champagne), and food everywhere. Indulgence never looked so tasty.
I’ll be honest, my will power diminishes when I walk into a grand hall filled with food. I’m all for #treatyoself, but when that leads to me crying on my couch in fetal position about to birth four food babies…I begin questioning my life choices. As a seasoned brunch buffet-goer, I’ve adopted a handful of healthy habits that allow me to fully indulge without regret.
My brunch buffet motto: a little goes a long way. (Unless we’re talking about Champagne…in which case, keep the bubbles coming!)
1. Eat something small in the morning
Key word: SMALL. You know how people say don’t go grocery shopping starving? Same idea applies here. Walking into a room full of food ravenous will end with the ultimate food coma. If you’re brunching before 11 a.m. (do people do that…?), you can forego the snack as to not ruin your appetite.
The morning of brunch I woke up, worked out (because I knew everything I was about to eat), and drank a chocolate whey protein shake mixed with water. Brunch started at 11 a.m., so it was the perfect little something to hold me over.
2. Avoid filling up on tasty breads
If you’ve ever been to an Italian restaurant, you know the dangers of filling up on bread (or at least I do!). Brunch buffets are sprinkled with baskets of fresh rolls, sweet breads, croissants, muffins, and cinnamon buns. I tend to avoid these fluffy carb baskets to save more room for the specialty desserts.
Unless of course that cinnamon bun looks too divine to pass up; then I’ll size up the one dripping in copious amounts of glazed icing and snatch it.
This concept applies to the cheeses too — those little chucks of creamy goodness fill you up fast!
3. Pace yourself
Remember when I said there wasn’t a time limit? I wasn’t joking. We spent almost four hours at our table and turned brunch into a 5+ course meal. That ladies and gentleman, is the definition of “pace yourself.”
We started with fluffy omelettes, moved onto salads and hors d’oeuvres, then cheeses and Italian meats, sushi, steamed dumplings, fresh cut ham and steak, and finally dessert. Champagne flowed the entire time, and we cleansed our palate between courses with jelly beans (well, my mom and I did at least). But we didn’t scarf down the food on our plates. We would sit in between courses and talk/joke around (while sipping the bubbly) before getting up for the next round.
4. Take only a taste or split with a friend
A little of this, half of that, a bite of this, a scoop of that — the key is not to fill your plate. That cinnamon bun I mentioned before? My parents and I each had a bite of it; that’s all we needed.
Easter brunch was overflowing with amazing dishes, and you better believe I was out to try them all. But rather than eating a full slab of succulent ham, I asked for a small slice. I only ate two sushi rolls instead of a plateful (I know, impressive). When it came time for dessert, my parents and I loaded our plates with different sweets and split them all.
Yes, that is a multi-level dessert display, and yes we were determined to try everything. (Fun fact: those rainbow-speckled rice krispies were laced with Fruity Pebbles.) We finished our nearly four-hour brunch adventure with DIY ice cream sundaes, because everyone knows ice cream fills in the cracks.
5. Go for a walk post-brunch
If you’re only going to follow one tip, choose this one. I can’t stress this enough! Going for a walk is the best thing you can do after an indulgent meal. Your body will thank you for a little exercise and fresh air. My parents and I strolled around the hotel’s property to walk off maybe five bites. And although that evening I ultimately crashed on the couch, I didn’t experience labor pains from food babies.
Since I only frequent all-you-can-eat buffets (brunch and otherwise) a few times a year, I don’t feel guilty eating an absurd amount of delicious food. For me, I focus on the social aspect of brunch and the company I’m in rather than the calories I’m consuming.
Now, who’s ready for Mother’s Day brunch?
Cheers to living your best life!