Buffets are considered by some the greatest gift on earth, a food mecca with endless variety and endless quantity. A place where you can go to satisfy your need for meat, Italian, classic American dishes, Mexican food, desserts, more meat, and more desserts.
Buuuuuut….they don’t always align with our nutrition goals. Now, we're not saying that buffets are inherently bad by any means.
However, they may not be a great thing (to at least be hitting consistently) if your goal is weight loss.
What then, if you are put in a situation where a buffet is your only option, (social obligation, birthday, family outing, etc.) are your options for making quality food choices and keeping calories in check?
What are the 3 research-proven methods to eat less while at the buffet?
1 – Sit as far away from the food as possible.
It’s proven that the less accessible food is, the less we will consume. If something is within 6-8 feet of us we are more apt to have more of it. If you need to get up, walk around the corner, and to the end of the room you naturally will end up taking fewer trips which = less food = fewer calories = staying in line with fat loss goals.
2 – Sit with your back facing the buffet lines.
Research has demonstrated that the more times we are stimulated visually by food, the less often we are able to resist temptation. Think about the doughnuts at work that are in the break room, which are on your way to the bathroom that you see 5 times a day.
With each trip to the restroom, it becomes more and more difficult to resist the urge to grab one. You have seen them sitting there, looking oh so good, five times. You are set up to lose that game.
If you are staring at the ice cream machine at the local all you can eat, how difficult is it going to be to say no?
3 – Before simply "starting at the beginning" scan all of your food options.
In seeing all of what is available, and processing it, you will naturally gravitate to what appeals to you most. This, in lieu of just grabbing what is first in line, can help to reduce the amount of food you serve up.
In fact, this influence is so strong that in a recent study published in the Public Library of Science One, Drs. Brian Wansink and Andrew Hanks found that two-thirds of an individual’s plate is filled with the first items they encounter.
So by scanning your options you will leave some things off your plate, and consume fewer calories in total. Bonus – you will also only eat the things you truly want and enjoy.
Now the next time you find yourself at an AYCA (all-you-can-eat) buffet think about these three tips and see which ones might work best for you!