When you’re watching your diet, buffets are a two-edged sword. You can be pretty confident there will be lots of healthy dishes on hand, but it’s also a sure bet there will be temptation! Here are some tips for managing the situation.
First, if possible, seat yourself at a table far away from the food. If you can’t see the food, and can’t see other people serving themselves, you will be less tempted. Also, the farther away you are, the more likely you won’t be able to smell the food, a major trigger for overeating.
Now walk around the buffet without a plate, just to scope out the situation. Plan what to serve yourself. If there is something you feel is worth the splurge, take note, and also see what healthy foods you can include.
Now grab a plate. Know you will allow yourself two trips – after all, that’s the point of a buffet and you don’t want to feel deprived. But know that on the first trip, you will fill three-quarters of your plate with healthy food like vegetables, salad and fruit. Then use the last fourth of your plate for your favorite picks. Give yourself permission to eat some yummy, decadent goodies, but within a planned portion limit.
Before you make your second trip, drink a glass full of water and wait five minutes. Check in with yourself to see if you still actually want to eat. If so, head back to the buffet table, but this time stick to the healthy choices.
Buffets are danger zones partly because of the mind game: You want to get your money’s worth, and the whole point of a buffet is to get all you want of everything. So remind yourself of your own priorities: getting healthy and feeling slender and attractive.
Except for your own personal favorites, ignore the fried food and the heavy, oily dishes. Stay away from bread and butter. Treat yourself to lean proteins, like grilled chicken instead of fried or smothered. Broth-based soups are a good choice. Enjoy the unlimited beverages, or at least the ones without sugar. Sip on unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water, coffee or hot tea.
Finally, don’t be led astray by your dinner partners. If they choose to go back for thirds or fourths, grab a succulent piece of fruit and enjoy it with a cup of coffee. You’re going to feel wonderful after it’s all over.