Picture the scene: you’ve just woken up on Valentines morning, or any morning for that matter. You can hear your other half pottering around in the kitchen – the kettle whistling, the plates clattering, followed by footsteps on the stairs… can this be happening? Could it be true? Could it really be…? Yes!
Yes, it is! It’s Breakfast in Bed!
Flowers, coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, it all looks wonderful… and then your heart sinks. Piled high on the plate are warm, fragrant, buttery croissants. And pain aux chocolat. And pain aux raisin. And did I forget to mention the dish of butter and the pot of jam? Bang! There goes the diet.
Maybe you wonder how French women manage to have a reputation for being slim, elegant and sophisticated. I’ll tell you how – they don’t eat croissants and pain aux chocolat for breakfast every morning! Under that golden, gently crisp dough lies more golden, buttery dough and more, and more... the packet really isn’t kidding when it says, ‘all-butter croissants’.
And as you might expect (but wish otherwise) the calorie count is catastrophic. An average ‘all-butter’ croissant contains a calamitous 225 calories and a cataclysmic 13.5 grams of fat, including 4.5 grams of saturated fat – that’s 4 Totals to you and me.
Add to that the generous serving of butter (ah go on, just this once…) and the figures are positively frightening: over 370 calories and 30 grams of fat (7 Totals), half of which is saturated fat.
Oh, and I forgot the jam… we’ll add on another 50 calories there for good measure. That one croissant with butter and jam will now give you a massive 420 calories and 30 grams of fat (8 Totals).
So what’s the alternative? If you long for that golden, crisp pastry, go for the pain aux chocolat instead. Yes, that’s right! I said, ‘go for the pain aux chocolat instead’! I thought you’d be surprised.
Now, a pain aux chocolat still has a huge number of calories, 210 on average, but the thing is - we don’t put butter and jam on them. It’s the same with pain aux raisin – 205 calories or 4 Totals all in.
The fat content is still much higher than desirable – around 12 grams (7.5 grams saturated) in both pain aux chocolat and pain aux raisin – but it’s less than a croissant and it’s certainly less than a croissant with butter on top.
If the French patisserie isn’t quite your thing, why not go for other healthy options like fruit loaf, pancakes, malt loaf, crumpets or fresh bread rolls? A slice of fruit loaf, for example, contains only 80 calories and 0.5 grams of fat (1 Totals).
Add a light topping of low fat spread and a teaspoon of reduced sugar jam and there you go – 120 calories. Even a large pancake with a teaspoon of honey has only 130 calories, 4 grams of fat (1½ Totals) and no saturated fat.
Add to that a pot of low fat yoghurt and a piece of fruit and you have a balanced and nutritious breakfast for less than 300 calories. This type of breakfast will also keep you feeling fuller for longer and give you an energy boost, not weigh you down.
So next time you’re being treated to breakfast in bed, let your well-meaning other half know what you would like to eat – your family wants to support you, not add to the guilt of slipping up.
Keep the healthier alternatives handy in the cupboard and leave the croissants in the bakery. The only French fancy you need is the picture of yourself in a swimsuit… on a beach… on the Cote d’Azure… Croissants? Non merci…!