Buffets can be overwhelming.
Italian dinner buffets, for instance. Meatballs smothered in rich tomato sauce with garlic, grated Parmesan, and fresh herbs. Pile those atop of a huge bowl of Penne that is drenched in creamy vodka sauce. Add a few breadsticks with pesto dip to the mix. And then a few bites of an eggplant, veal, and chicken parmesan (why not just try all three?). And some of the fettuccine carbonara, cause who can resist bacon, right? And maybe you’ll just go up for a second or third round because it’s all yours for a fixed (and usually cheap!) price.
It’s not just Italian. What about the dessert tray at restaurants? Each item is so mouth-watering that you cannot help but order a few, and usually the “taste” that we claim we’ll have usually turns into a major splurge that we soon regret once we put on our PJs and jump into bed with an overly stuffed belly.
Here are my 13 key tips for navigating the buffet line:
1. Pick a table that is far away from the buffet station. The best option is to sit in a different room. The distance will decrease the likelihood that you’ll get up for seconds.
2. If your table is near the buffet, choose a seat that faces the opposite direction. Think: outta sight, outta mind. Stay engaged in conversation and pay attention to the lovely faces around you, rather than the tray of fried cheese balls and potato skins behind your head.
3. Fill your plate with veggies first. By loading 2/3 of the plate with fresh fruits or vegetables, you won’t have much room to add in all those starches and heavy meats. Choose a protein (about the fist of your palm in size) and one starch to complement the meal.
4. If you know that you can’t resist going up for seconds, make the first round a “veggie-only” experience. Eat a whole plate of vegetables first, and then go up for round two. Your stomach will probably be somewhat full, and you won’t feel the need to over-indulge on unhealthy foods.
5. Don’t compare your plate to others’. Friends influence friends, especially when it comes to eating habits. Stick to healthy choices, and don’t let your friend’s plate of pastas, potatoes, and fried foods affect your behavior. One exception: if you have a friend who is admired for his or her nutritious mannerisms, buddy up while browsing the station.
6. Drink a glass of Arbonne’s “Full Control” 30 minutes prior to heading to the restaurant. Glucomannan expands your stomach, suppressing appetite and saving you from stuffing your face. It’s also in a great watermelon-kiwi flavor! To purchase, click here.
7. Chew a stick of gum. Always have a pack when heading to a buffet. Start chewing after round one. Wait 20 minutes to see if you’re still hungry.
8. Don’t bring anything home. If you do, you’ll end up eating it later that night.
9. Focus on your dinner guests. Keep the conversation going, put your fork down between bites, and be mindful of the present.
10. Be the last for everything: the last to go up to the buffet, the last to sit down with food at the table, the last to finish the first plate, the last to go up for another round, etc. Waiting often proves to be helpful in lowering the likelihood that you’ll actually end up leaving the table for more.
11. If it’s drenched in oil, butter, or sauce, and if it’s glazed, shiny or crispy, avoid it.
12. Remember: it won’t be the last time that you’ll be able to eat chocolate, meat, fries, pasta, pizza, bread, etc. You don’t need to cram them all into one night! If you honor that perspective, you’ll realize that skipping the potato for the pasta salad is not a big deal.
13. It’s okay to be wasteful. Of course this is not the goal, but don’t feel obligated to clean the plate if you served yourself too much food or are no longer hungry. You can even offer the rest of your meal to the table.