Buffets and other social functions can be trying when you want to eat healthy. It pays to have a strategy planned well in advance.
- Get your food and go
Many work and social functions involve a large table covered with tasty looking morsels. Don’t be one of those people who stand next to the table. Get your plate, put your food on it, and leave the table. Period.
- Choose a small plate
Seems obvious – but a large plate typically means lots of food and all hope of appropriate portion size is abandoned (there has been considerable research into this).
- Memorize what a “healthy plate” looks like
Remember the various “healthy plates” that segment out different food groups? Try filling up your plate will salads and vegetables first – whatever is left can go to the other foods.
- Check out the buffet before loading up the plate
Some people start at one end, and by the time they’ve finished loading the plate it looks like Mt Everest. Take a minute to walk around the foods before you grab your plate. Make a mental list of the best foods (lean proteins, salads, vegetables, etc). When it’s time to grab your plate – you can bypass all the other foods.
- Find the slowest eater
Know someone who eats really slow? Sit next to them. It’ll help you pace yourself properly – and you’ll soon know if you’ve been stuffing yourself.
- Keep it all in balance
You want to have dessert? Then ditch any appetizers – or keep your main small.
- Drink wisely
Alcoholic drinks are surprisingly high in calories. If you’re after something a bit more exciting than plain water then go for a soda water (aka seltzer water or club soda). A dash of lime juice in it can make it a tasty drink.
For many people, a buffet meal should be avoided completely – the temptation to get your money’s worth is too strong. Researcher Brian Wansink has also demonstrated that the more variety on offer, the more we tend to eat.
Tables laden with food are a central part of many social gatherings. Don’t use them as an excuse to go crazy. If you do have comfort foods that you can’t do without, then pay very special attention to portion size.