How to Master Eating at Buffets

BuffetEating at an all-inclusive resort…or any vacation…weddings…work functions…Super Bowl…these are some events at which people tend to gorge on food. I’ve done it often. But lately I’ve been practicing mindfulness (are you sick of this word yet?) when it comes to eating. In other words, simply being present and self-aware. One of my goals during my Punta Cana trip was to remain mindful of the food I eat, and guess what? It was much easier than I thought it would be! I ate a mixture of what I wanted and what was required for my body, ate absolutely no sweets (except for ice cream on my last day), and ate until I was content, while sometimes leaving food on the plate (this is very difficult for me to do). So I thought about why it was fairly easy.

The biggest thing contributing to success is a clear end goal. When you have that, everything falls into place. Initially my goal was to eat the same way I eat at home as much as possible. Obviously, with choices at a buffet this becomes very difficult. I don’t want added stress during vacation, so my revised goal was to eat intuitively and as healthy as possible, while enjoying one or two treats.

The treats would be some fruits, extra peanut butter and nutella on my toast, some sweet plantains, or a couple beignets. You get the idea. Next time you’re at a buffet, here’s what I recommend:

– Fill one plate only
– Walk around to scope out what’s available! This is key. Many people pile their plate with the first 4-5 things they like and end up going for seconds because they can’t stop thinking about that fried cheese they wanted to try too, or the seafood station they missed the first time. Take some time to look at EVERYTHING that’s available to you…look at it, determine if you really want it and how much, and envision how it’ll taste, and how you’ll feel after eating it. Sounds silly, but when I saw something delicious (all the fried, cheesy, buttery stuff!!) I just stared at it and pictured myself eating it and imagined how I would feel afterwards. Then I’d walk away and do the same to everything else. By the time I was done I ended up picking one or two very reasonable choices.
– Fill 1/2 your plate with veggies (raw, steamed, grilled, doesn’t matter. Just not fried)
– Fill ¼ of your plate with meat or seafood (preferably lean meats and fish)
– Fill the last ¼ plate with whatever else you want. If that means ONE piece of 6 different things then you’re only getting one
– If you don’t really like veggies, eat it first so you can get it over with and move onto the yummy stuff

Eat slowly, drink lots of water, and by the time you’re done you realize you’re full and have no desire to go back for seconds. Now, I am a petite 5’2” 110lb girl so it’s easier for me than many others but even still, I assure you will have no desire to go back for a second full plate of food. A cup of soup, some fruit, a scoop of ice cream, sure.

And what if you just FEEL like eating, but you’re not physically hungry? Drink coffee or tea and engage in something, whether that’s work, writing, watching Netflix, or scrolling through Instagram.

Bye for now,
Maria Rose

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