Are you one of those who just loves the all-you can eat offers or can’t wait to get in the buffet line at parties? It’s hard to avoid bingeing at the buffet table when faced with a massive array of tempting treats. It’s even hard to avoid bingeing at the salad bar, because what sounds healthy is usually laden with croutons (high in fat and calories), creamy dressings (even more fat and calories), and diet killers like pasta and potato salads. Add in the fact that the buffet is at a free event, or in the all you-can-eat category, and it becomes almost impossible to reign yourself in to avoid bingeing. Need some strategies for portion control and to avoid overeating? Read on…
1. Don’t Go on an Empty Stomach
Turning up to a buffet feeling extremely hungry will only result in you needing willpower to avoid overeating and consuming excessive amounts of food. A good suggestion is to try eating a piece of fruit or a healthy snack before you attack the buffet cart. A rumbling tummy often leads to impulse eating, and the desire to eat as much as possible in one go. This is especially true if you’re within easy reach of your favourite foods.
2. Keep Your Distance
Where possible, try to sit as far away from the buffet as you can. Sitting nearby will not only tempt you to keep going back for more, but will result in you over indulging yourself, which is always so easy to do. Another handy tip is to sit facing away from the buffet to help avoid bingeing on all your favourite foods in sight.
3. Choose Your Company Carefully
You may find it beneficial to sit amongst friends and family who have healthy eating habits when you go to a buffet. Seeing others control portion size can help encourage you to avoid bingeing. If you find it difficult to keep track of how much you’ve eaten, you may find it helpful to ask a friend or family member to pay attention to how much you’re consuming and to encourage you to slow down or have a break where necessary.
4. Know What’s on Offer
Before you’re tempted to put one of everything on your plate, have a good walk around the buffet to see what different options are available. Once you’ve seen what’s on offer, then you can select what you’d really like to eat, rather than just grabbing everything and over indulging yourself. It’s very easy to make the mistake of filling your plate up with food that you’re not overly keen on, just because it was the first buffet cart you came to.
5. No Need to Think Big
By using smaller plates you control portion size better, and automatically reduce your overall food intake and unless you want to get in line multiple times, you avoid the binge. It is very easy for normal portion sizes to look small on oversized plates, hence why we then aim to fill the whole plate up. A problem we face is the term, "all you can eat", that surrounds the concept of a buffet and is taken literally by many diners, which results in excessive consumption. It would seem at times that a buffet is a competition to see who can eat the most or pile their plate the highest with food, however that’s not always the case. It can be a great way to discover and sample new tastes, to indulge in our favourite foods and to ultimately have an enjoyable dining experience.
6. There’s No Rush
Mealtimes are meant to be a relaxed, enjoyable and social time in the day. There’s no need to consume everything quickly and all in one go. You can avoid overeating by taking your time, eating slowly and spacing out your visits to the buffet cart. Make sure you pick the foods that you really want to eat and are not just eating for the sake of it.
7. Watch out for Those Vanishing Plates
It is very common to find that as soon as you’ve finished your plate of food that there is a waiter lurking around ready to take your plate in exchange for a clean one. This clever technique distracts us from actually realizing how many plates of food we have consumed and leaves us feeling tempted to go back for more. Without the actual evidence on the table before our eyes, it is easy to forget our intake of food and continue to indulge in our favourite foods. Holding onto the plates you’ve used is a good visual reminder of how much food you’ve consumed and will hopefully enable you to avoid the urge to binge on another plate.
8. Reach for the Chewing Gum
A good tip to stop you from racing straight back to the buffet after you’ve consumed your first plate is to chew on some sugar free gum. It will help to give your stomach a bit of a rest and cleanse your pallet ready for the next course. This break in your mealtime will help to avoid overeating and feeling tempted to go straight onto your next plate of food. It is also suggested that chewing gum helps to burn a few extra calories, which is definitely not a bad thing!
9. Wear an Extra Layer
Make sure you keep warm throughout your dining experience, as feeling cold will only increase your appetite, resulting in you overeating.
10. Make after Buffet Plans
A good way to help you eat less at a buffet and exercise portion control is to arrange an activity for after you’ve eaten. Making some plans to do some form of exercise will deter you from overeating. The thought of having to go for a run (or even for a walk for that matter) on a full, bloated stomach will soon make you rethink your excessive trips to the buffet cart. It is especially effective if you make plans with friends or if it’s a team activity, as you’ll feel obliged to go and not let the others down.
There you have it - next time you are faced with a laden buffet or an all you can eat buffet menu, you know how to manage it.
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