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While the definition of a full breakfast is often culturally determined, generally a full breakfast is a person's morning meal, which consists of several foods from different food groups. In many cases, a full breakfast includes a balance between starches and proteins, though it may also include some fruits and vegetables. For many people, a full breakfast is not complete unless it is accompanied by common breakfast beverages, including juice, coffee, or tea. People often use the term full breakfast to distinguish the meal from a breakfast that consists of one food item, such as a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal.
For many people, a full breakfast is an indulgence often foregone in favor of convenience and fewer calories. Many still appreciate a breakfast that has all the components of a proper meal, including several different foods served at the same time. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, many still refer to a breakfast that consists of several types of meat, including bacon and sausages, eggs, and toast as a full English breakfast or a full Irish breakfast. These breakfasts are often accompanied by baked beans, stewed tomatoes, or sautéed mushrooms. Such breakfasts are sometimes known as fry-ups and may be washed down with large mugs of strong black tea to which milk and sugar are added, creating a beverage known as builder's tea.
In the United States, the elements of a full breakfast can vary significantly by region. In the South, buttermilk biscuits topped with sausage gravy is a common breakfast specialty and is typically consumed with strong coffee. In other places, pancakes along with eggs and some type of breakfast meat is a typical full breakfast. One particularly common breakfast found in so-called greasy spoons, also known as diners or corner coffee shops, is a combination of eggs prepared according to customer preference, a breakfast meat, and toast with butter and jelly.
In the hospitality industry, the term full breakfast is often used in contrast to that of the continental breakfast. A continental breakfast typically consists of some type of breakfast bread, including toast or croissants, which are then served with butter or jam accompanied by hot tea or coffee. In some cases, a continental breakfast may also include fruit, cold cereal, or juice. Many hotels advertise that they provide a breakfast in their room rates, but it is a good idea for travelers to determine whether this breakfast is a full breakfast meal or a light breakfast of the continental type.