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Watch Out for the Buffet

If you frequently stay in hotels, or are a frequent traveler, you will undoubtedly come across many food buffets. On one hand, they provide a great range of food to choose from, both healthy and unhealthy choices, but with choice we can easily eat too much, and too many unhealthy choices.

The idea of a buffet is not a bad thing. It's great to have a wider variety of food than you can usually find on the à la carte menu. It just takes some great willpower to keep to your healthy eating plan, and stop yourself from walking away feeling completely bloated.

What to choose?

If the restaurant has done a good job, all the food at the buffet will look appealing, which unfortunately also includes all the fried food and starches. When faced with the choice, most people will dive into the rich cheesy dishes and mashed potatoes before going for the grilled vegetables and salad. At the buffet, it’s much easier to choose on impulse whatever takes your fancy, instead of weighing up the pros and cons of each dish as you do when choosing from a menu.

A good tip is to start with salads, fresh fruits and vegetables as these are not only lower in calories and fat, but full of vitamins and minerals If you fill up mostly on those, you won’t be as tempted to dive into all of the bad stuff.

Clare Wood Dietitian at the buffet counterA dietitian makes good food choices

How much to take?

When grabbing food from a buffet, food serving sizes are left up to you. Even if you take a small portion of what is on offer, the problem is that we end up taking so many of those little portion sizes, filling up our plate until it is spilling over (and then going back for more!). We all love to get good value, so it is easy to justify going back for more since we paid a flat price.

To limit how much you take, use a smaller plate as opposed to a large dinner plate. If you are tempted to try everything, use the serving spoons as a guide to a good portion size, and stick to just one scoop of each thing.

How much to consume?

Our eyes are often much larger than our stomachs, and we end up with way more food on our plate than we should consume, and often more than we could possibly consume. Many of us have grown up being told to 'finish everything on your plate", which isn't a bad mantra to be teaching kids. The key is to not take so much in the first place.

Just remember it’s not the buffet’s fault. Eat as slowly, taking your time to allow your stomach to catch up with your mouth and let you know when you’re full. Enjoy the food and take it easy.

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