Your friends are heading to that restaurant with the endless buffet. The food is great, many options to try, and desserts are included. Who couldn’t resist that deal?
If you’re trying to eat healthier, be more mindful, and reduce mindless and overeating, the buffet can be a difficult place to maneuver. The captivating aromas and stacks of plates begging you to pick them up for seconds and thirds make it close to impossible to stay in control.
You could decide to never go to a buffet but that’s no fun. Friendships and socializing are part of our human make-up. Studies after studies show that being around people we care about helps our overall physical and mental health.
So how do you join your friends and have a good time without overeating? Practice these 7 strategies every time you hit the buffet.
One: Keep Your Distance
Sit far away from the buffet and don’t face it directly. When you sit far, you’re less likely to go back for another round. When you’re not staring at the buffet, you’re more likely to enjoy what’s in your plate rather than what you will pick next. Or in other words, it helps you stay focused on the present, in the moment.
Two: Choose Who to Copy
When it comes to how we eat, we are easily influenced by external cues. For example, you will eat fast when the person sitting next to you or in front of you eats fast. Many of us lost the ability to feel our hunger and satiety from the inside, so we tend to mirror those around us and wait for the clues to stop. Try to sit next to your friend or co-worker who takes their time to eat.
Three: Browse Before You Pile
Tour the buffet first and then grab a plate. Be selective and pick out a few things you absolutely want to eat instead of squeezing a mountain of food on your plate. In general, look for dishes with more vegetables and where meats, chicken, or fish have been grilled or sauteed. Fried options tend to be coated with a layer of breading.
Four: Stick to a Small Plate
Choose a small plate for your meal even if they’re typically used for appetizers or desserts. Many studies support using smaller plates to trick the eye and reduce portions.
Five: Slow Down
It takes 20 minutes for you satiety hormones to kick in. Chew your food thoroughly and slow down. Use chopsticks if possible. Put your knife and fork down and engage in a discussion. All these will help you take your time so your hormones have a chance to communicate with your brain to tell you that you’ve had enough.
Six: Wait 5 Minutes
When you want to get up for seconds, give yourself 5 minutes first. Listen to your body and your hunger and satiety cues. It may be a matter of minutes for the satiety hormones to kick it. If you’re really still hungry, go back and fill half a plate. Often, people find that the first round was plenty of food as is.
Seven: Change your Attitude
Forget about getting the most food for your money. Think of what you will suffer from when you overeat: your comfort, health, mood, energy, productivity, and more. What’s more valuable to you?
What are your strategies when you hit the open buffet?