The end of year buffet tables are like dietary optical illusions, where before you know it, a small plate becomes a huge meal, laden with saturated fats, sugar and calories, and this might be on top of your three meals a day too. The festive season, while fun, can be a food nightmare for anyone watching their weight or on a diet. Even if you are simply trying to eat healthily, a buffet can display a veritable feast of fattening temptations which during the holiday season can be difficult to resist. What you need is some buffet table healthy eating tactics!
You do not need to avoid every social occasion over the holidays to keep in shape but you do need to be conscious of what you are eating, otherwise you may trigger bad habits and set up new, unhealthy eating patterns. When you are faced with the dietary delights of an indulgent buffet table, follow these strategic tips:
- Size up your portion – With a seemingly limitless amount of food, or at least an abundance, the mind seems to play a trick which is telling you that you need to really binge-out and indulge. Just because you are not eating a proper meal does not mean that you should forget portion size. It also means you can indulge a little too!
- Survey the table before you make a move – You know the feeling, you start mindlessly loading up the buffet plate and then you come across more of what you like later down the table, leaving you with a huge amount of food when you’d planned a light snack. Check out what’s on offer first so that you can make your selections and create a better balanced plate and so that when you do come to choose you know you are not missing out.
- You need less than you think – While it might feel strange to be taking a small spoon’s worth of potato salad, that’s all you need, when you add in the rest of the buffet selection. If you know you are prone to filling up your plate then make it a rule to pick half or even a third of what you immediately want to. In other words, take one spring roll, not three!
- Seek out the healthy canapes and snacks – On most buffet tables there are usually some healthy foods, nestling between the chips and the dips. Identify what’s healthy and opt for these foods first, so that your plate has less room for unhealthy snacks.
- Don’t socialize by the buffet table – So, you are stood there chatting and before you know it you are picking at food from the buffet without even thinking about it. You don’t need to go to extreme lengths to avoid buffet temptations but standing right next to a table laden with rich foods is perhaps asking for trouble!
- Make more than one buffet table trip – This may sounds like advice that runs counter to a healthy eating plan but actually it isn’t. Deciding you will enjoy a couple of servings of savoury and perhaps a serving of dessert, means that you are less likely to go into panic mode on your first visit to the table and try and cram everything on your plate. Do allow yourself a good 10 minutes break between each trip though, so that your body has time to let you know if you are still hungry or not.
- Eat slowly – A buffet is really finger foods, canapes and snacks at a social event. It is not really about having a blow-out meal. Savor your buffet selection by taking your time to enjoy the social aspect of the occasion, whilst enjoying a light snack. Don’t just sit in a corner with a plate piled high. A buffet is not just about the food it’s about people.
- Create a balanced plate – Some people regard the buffet plate as a mish-mash of their favorite foods, regardless of whether dishes complement or balance each other. While there’s no need to be overly strict, make sure you have a mix of carbs, vegetables and proteins and that you are not overloaded with pastries or pasta.
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