Committed dieters know that an overflowing buffet can wreak havoc on a dieter’s willpower. Chinese buffets can be especially challenging, but even breakfast buffets (ahh the pastries) or those All You Can Eat spreads are difficult to resist. And cruise ship buffets – eek!
Unfortunately buffets abound and non-dieters not only enjoy them, but urge dieting friends to come along. Short of saying a flat “No!” what’s a dieter to do when faced with serving table after serving table of high calorie, high sodium foods?
Three Part Plan for Eating At Buffets
- Part A: Scope out the buffet as soon as you arrive at the restaurant. Know before you grab your first plate what is available, what will work and what you should avoid.
- Part B: Fill your plate with the low calories options first (e.g., salads and light soups), and then returning for the proteins (turkey, chicken) and plain veggies. Completely skip the high calorie pastas, potatoes au gratin and so forth. Instead make your third course the desserts with cut up fruit.
- Part C: Stop when you’re full and accept that you do not need to go back a fourth time to sample everything that you missed.
A note about Chinese buffets: The only way for a confirmed dieter to survive a Chinese buffet is to not go near it. Instead, order steamed chicken and vegetables from the menu. Let your friends eat the egg rolls and fried dumplings; you stick to your diet.
A Few Other Buffet Tips
- Get your head around the concept of “just a taste.” Since most buffets allow diners to serve themselves, take a small portion of several offerings. Of course several plates of mini tastes can equate to a huge number of calories, so be selective. And remember that mini tastes constitute a meal and are not simply appetizers.
- Many buffets have smaller plates, which can be a help in portion control. If your buffet has platter size plates, fill up half of the plate with low calorie salads and veggies so there is less room for the high calorie choices.
- Commit to one trip to the buffet, one plate of food.
- Consider what you’re eating. If you must have the lasagna, then make the rest of the meal more diet friendly. Do not go from the lasagna to the chicken Parmesan to the stuffed shells.
- Consider your beverage. Ordering a glass of wine or a soda with your meal adds calories you could save.
- Don’t sit near the buffet tables.
- Don’t over analyze your companions’ choices. You looked at it all, you decided – you do not need to go back for the slab of prime rib just because your friend says it is good.
- Talk! You’re out with friends. Talk to them. Make the food on your plate last longer with good conversation.
- Forget about the expense. There’s a tendency to think in terms of getting one’s money worth. Ignore the cost and enjoy one good plate of food.
- It’s not a race to go back for more. If you’re going off your diet for the food in front of you, eat slowly and enjoy. Tomorrow the diet begins again.
Back to the initial question: “Where should we eat tonight?”
A reminder that the dieter has the right to respond “I’d rather not do the All You Can eat Buffet tonight. I’m just not that hungry.”