Whether at a party or a restaurant, don’t let a buffet be your diet downfall. With certain strategies, you can enjoy a range of choices without going overboard and without experiencing any of the usual guilt.
Cornell researcher Brian Wansink tracked the behavior of people at all you can eat Chinese buffet restaurants and found that thin people have habits that seem to keep their eating in check. Here’s how to follow their lead.
First, ask to be seated away from the buffet at restaurants and don’t face the food to avoid added temptation.
Before grabbing a plate, tour the buffet and decide on which dishes you want most. Give yourself a limit — say 5 to 7 items — to force yourself to pare down options. To keep portion sizes in check, choose a small plate. This naturally limits how much you can load up on at once.
Back at the table, find ways to slow down your eating, like using your non-dominant hand. If you’re the one paying the bill at a restaurant, resist the mindset of having to get your money’s worth and going back for more even after you’re full.
If you find the temptation’s too great, you might be better off to avoid buffets when you can. If the buffet is at a friend’s or relative’s house or an office party, use the occasion to be social. Make the effort to spend more time on conversation than filling up your plate.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has suggestions to keep your diet on track.