Beat the bloat at the buffet

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last week at our company offsite we were presented with this table at lunch:

While buffet is defined as a meal laid out on a table or sideboard so that guests may serve themselves, it could really be considered a nightmare situation for many people whether you are watching your weight or not. Here are my tips for making better choices at the buffet table:
  • Grab a salad/dessert plate - Smaller plate = smaller area for food, making portion control a lot easier.

  • Survey the buffet - Have a look at the whole table or area before you start loading up your plate. We've all had the experience of starting to put food on your plate at the beginning and ending up with a mini mountain by the time we get to the end and find the things we actually want to eat.

  • Fill half your plate with veggies and/or fruits - We worked on this during the 4 weeks to 5 servings challenge last month, and while it's a great strategy for everyday eating, it's an even better strategy at the buffet! Most buffets have a salad bar or veggie area, so stock up there before you check out your other choices.

  • Eat the things you're excited about, ditch the things you're not - There's no sense in eating food that isn't fun, enjoyable or good. Just because it's on the buffet spread, doesn't mean that you have to eat it! Grab some of the stuff that you really enjoy and leave the rest.
  • Cancel your membership in the CLEAN PLATE CLUB - It's either going to your waist or to waste - it's your choice. If you're feeling satisfied or the food just isn't doing it for you, don't feel obligated to finish everything off. It's okay to leave some stuff or take a doggie bag!
  • Keep it simple - While I'm all for trying new things, it's probably good to stick with what you know at the buffet, so go with fruits and veggies, lean sources of protein and whole grains. Try to steer clear of sauces, coatings, batters, dressings and other extras that will just pile on the calories

Here is what I grabbed at the offsite:

So I didn't really have much of a choice but to fill my plate up with veggies and fruits as the rest of it was wraps, cheese & crackers and cookies so I went with half a plate of salad with a drizzle of dressing, a bit of coleslaw, some grapes and melon. It looked really full, but I was just trying to stock up on salad! I had also brought a larabar and some almonds with me which helped me to feel satisfied! I ended up going back for more salad and I found myself munching on the fruit all day.

I think my last tip for success at the buffet is to think about it like any other meal - what kind of choices would you make if it wasn't a buffet? It's not "The Last Supper" so you don't need to treat it as such. Go in with a plan, think about these tips and make the best choices possible. You can do it!

Do you have any tips for buffets or special occasion eating?


Allie said...

Ash, this post couldn't have come at a better time. Greg and I are going to Mandarin tonight for dinner.

It's funny because when I told my co-workers of my dinner plans tonight one immediately told me not to eat for the entire day. I laughed and told her that I'm still planning to eat my regular meals. I'm not going to starve all day and binge at the buffet.

Great post!


Jesse Regan said...


You seem really active, have you ever looked at something like P90X? I think you would really enjoy it. Good luck with all of your fitness goals. And I appreciate the keeping people in check with food.


Every Gym's Nightmare said...

I LOVE biffets because of all the healthy choices (not that there are often very many) but I love having a plate full of different fruits veggies and salads- I rarely get that kind of variety at home. Its the same fruit until its gone, same veggies until they are gone, etc.

Unknown said...

"It's not the last supper" ....that's a good one. I'm going to use that as my mantra next time I'm faced with the dreaded buffet or pot luck lunch

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