Beauty and the Feast

Posted: September 26, 2012 in Food, Healthy Living, Nutrition

You have been invited to a restaurant that is purely a buffet style establishment.  Red flags are going off left and right as images of sugary. creamy. gluttonous. foods dance in your head.  Or maybe you are going on a cruise where the buffets are infamous and many a tale has been told about the deliciousness that awaits you.  It could just simply be a potluck style meal at your friends.  No matter the scenario, these situations can cause anxiety as you ask yourself one question: How do I navigate the beauty of the buffets while sticking to a sensible eating strategy?  Because when all is said and done, those buffets can be a down right beautiful feast – fountains flowing with liquid chocolate that remind you of a scene from the movie Willie Wonka; cakes and pies galore all enticing your senses; and ewey gooey goodness around every corner! 

Here are few tips to keep in mind to help you enjoy those types of situations and still make it out feeling good about your choices and leaving without a doggy bag of guilt!

Let’s use the word FEAST:

F = Forgo.  Forgo the ordinary.  Don’t go to a buffet just to pile the ordinary on your plate.  That being said – let me explain.  I am in no way condoning eating all of the delicious looking foods at that buffet.  What I am saying is first start with your protein and veggies (which, BTW, should be one of your first go-to strategies for any dining experience) and then if you are going to splurge a bit – go for the things that you may not be able to get on a day-to-day basis, or the things that are special to that area/restaurant.

E = Eat something small before arriving.  NEVER, EVER go into a buffet situation starving.  All bets are off at that point.  Clear minded decisions will be clouded by hunger. Period!

A = Assess the situation.  Before picking up your plate and starting at one end of the buffet to pile on food, first assess what is being offered.  This is not a race where there is a starting line and a finish line.  There is no buffet etiquette book that says you must put something of everything on your plate.  Assess the types of foods so that you can begin to make a plan in your head.  Ever start at a buffet and be piling food on your plate only to find about half way through it there was something better?  It could have been a food more aligned to your eating style or even something grander than what’s on there now. But now what? You have loaded so much on your plate and obviously you can’t waste it (wink,wink), nor can you put it back.  

S = Start Small.  Go with a small portion and then run  ~I meant walk ~ back to your seat. Go with protein and veggies first (as mentioned above) to help with the satiety factor.  If you have eaten your food (slowly, chewing and savoring every bite) and still feel like you want another somethin’ somethin’ – then make another trip.  However, if you pile your plate on your first trip – even if you find yourself not hungry anymore – chances are if it is sitting there staring at you – you will continue to pick at that food.

T = Think!  Plain and simple. You have to be discerning when it comes to a buffet.  What is most important to you?    What are your goals?  How do you want to feel after this buffet?  Somehow when presented with a variety of options most of us lose all sense of rationale thinking.  Take a step back and Think.

These 5 steps will help when a smattering of food choices is all just a plate away.  Don’t let the beauty of the feast turn you into the foodie and the beast!

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