10 Tips for Eating Smart at an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

Nov 30 2016
Question@2x Dear Hungry Girl,

My family loves all-you-can-eat buffets, but I always end up making some crummy choices and eating way too much when I'm there! Do you have any advice on how I can go to these restaurants but still keep my healthy eating in check?

Bad at Buffets
Answer@2x Hi B at B,

All-you-can-eat buffets test even the most disciplined eaters. With an endless array of options, it's hard not to think, "I want it all!" However, it's totally possible to enjoy a buffet without overdoing it or making poor food choices. I've got 10 tips to help you buffet the right way!

Be strategic about your seating.

Eating right starts the moment you walk through the door. Ask the hostess to seat you far from the buffet, and face away from the food. We're visual creatures, so if you can't see the buffet at all times, you'll be less tempted. Researchers from Cornell University actually found that people who face away from the buffet make fewer trips to the food!

Check out the entire buffet before you fill your plate.

If you get in that line blindly, you may put food on your plate that you don't really need. But if you first see everything that's offered, you can pick and choose wisely and put together a balanced meal. So survey the scene before you even pick up your plate. I always do this, and it totally helps.

Start with a cup of broth-based soup and/or a salad.

Both are smart ways to tame that initial hunger. Broth-based soup fills you up for very few calories. And salad is full of filling fiber! Just skip the croutons and any fried salad toppers. Also, be smart with that salad dressing. Get light dressing on the side; then dip, don't pour!

Fill up on veggies.

This is a no-brainer. Vegetables are low in calories and filling. However, it's important to look for veggies that aren't bogged down with butter or oil. (Do your best to avoid the super-shiny ones!)

Go for protein.

Here's where you get your money's worth! Meat, chicken, and seafood are often the most expensive items on the buffet spread, and they're an important component of any meal. Protein helps you feel satiated and it's essential for a healthy diet. But, be wary of how it's prepared…

Avoid anything creamy or fried.

Yes, chicken is good for you, but the creamy white sauce on top? That's a no-no. This advice goes for any dish that's buried beneath a creamy blob of goo! Stick to tomato-based sauces, and you'll be much better off. Similarly, if food is battered and fried, it's going to contain way more calories than if it's grilled, broiled, or baked. Look for something simply cooked to keep those numbers down...

Make yourself a fresh fruit plate for dessert.

Craving something sweet to end your meal? Don't deprive yourself! But stick with fresh fruit, and maybe a cup of coffee or tea. No sense ruining your good eating by inhaling a slice of triple-layer chocolate cake! So not worth it...

All you can drink? Go for water, and lots of it!

With all the glorious food available, gulping soda or juice is a waste of calories. I'm all about getting you the most bang for your calorie buck, so use those calories for foods that satisfy! Bonus: Water will help you feel full, so you're likely to eat less.

Wait at least 10 minutes before going back for seconds.

It takes your brain some time to register that your stomach is full. You might think you still have more room in the tank, but give it some time!

Don't succumb to peer pressure.

Is the whole table going back up for thirds? Tell them that you'll "hold down the fort," and stay put. Maybe you'll even inspire a few to hang back as well!

Implement these tips into your all-you-can-eat routine, and there'll be no need to fear the buffet!

Chew on this:

Today, November 30th, is Perpetual Youth Day. Feed your inner child these Cheesy Cauliflower Tater Tots... Less than 10 calories each!

You're not the only one who could use some buffet advice… Click "Send to a Friend" now!

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