How to Navigate a Buffet Like A ProPosted: August 11, 2010
I really could kiss the mastermind that developed the concept of a buffet. In terms of important inventions, this one may rival running water or air conditioning.
I mean seriously…massive quantities of food from multiple cuisines, already cooked and laid out to be dished up and and devoured consumed in a civilized and ladylike manner? Sheer genius.
It’s daunting – but definitely possible – to pull together a healthy meal at a buffet.
I’m the kind of girl who likes to arrive with a game plan. My offensive playbook maximizes food-samplage while carefully crafted defensive plays prevent against waddling to the car on injured reserve with a food baby.
In the locker room…
- Some coaches subscribe to the “get your money’s worth” theory; I’d like to rename this “getting your tummy’s worth”. True, you’re paying for unlimited food, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat like it’s your last meal. (Unless, of course, it is, in which case, get your sorry self away from the computer and find something more last-day-on-earth-worthy!) Don’t skip meals leading up to the buffet!
- If necessary, pop a quick snack a bit before so you’re not tempted to just bring a fork up to the buffet and eat straight out of the serving line.
- Take a quick survey of the offerings. This is doubly important if you follow a special diet. I’ve had times when I’m so thrilled to see a good vegan/vegetarian option that I snag several scoops of the first dish I see, not expecting there to be much else available for me to eat…until I get to the next table, packed with bigger and better things, and no room left on my plate. A pre-game go-round lets you prioritize!
- Beeline for the salad bar. Even buffets I’m not usually impressed by tend to have a fairly hefty selection of leafy greens and toppings!
- Keep portions small the first time around. Not only does is it reduce waste in the event that you don’t like something you chose, but this way you don’t have to deprive yourself of the more indulgent selections. The beauty of a buffet is that you can always go back for seconds of the good stuff!
For the win…
- Seek out volume-eating heavyweights (or, more aptly, lightweights!) such as raw, steamed, or sauteed veggies, fresh fruit, and broth-based soups.
- Watch your sauces. Creamy salad dressings, pasta sauces, and cream-based soups hide a great deal of fat and calories. Meanwhile, teriyaki and marinara varieties are often packed with added sugars.
- Take advantage of the rotisserie for a smart lean protein option.
- Splurge smart and maintain common sense. Sure, you can have your cake and eat it too, but make sure it doesn’t follow a slice of pizza, chicken tenders, spaghetti and mashed potatoes! When you make your rounds upon arrival, pick one treat and plan around it!
If there’s a dish that you wouldn’t feel good about ordering or making at home, don’t feel compelled to try it just because it’s available to you. Stick to your guns!
How do you stay healthy at the buffet?