How NOT to Overeat at a Buffet
By Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
I once read an article that described a cafeteria lunch of a group of pro-football players. Each one of those hefty athletes pounded more grub in that one meal than an average person eats in a day or two.
And that’s great if you’re an NFL quarterback, or if you’re just an ordinary citizen who feels amazing after a meal like that.
But if you’re not in the daily habit of packing down serious poundage of fried chicken and fettuccine, all-you-can-eat buffet meals can leave you feeling more bloated than an overinflated football.
Put these moves into play next time you face a smorgasbord; instead of leaving the table with nausea and regret, you’ll dance outta there like a champ.
1. Don’t starve
First of all, never starve yourself; it’ll damage your metabolism, your physical health, and your mental health.
But especially in the days or hours before a special event, don’t cut back on calories in the hopes of counteracting all the food you know you’re going to eat when you get there. Arriving at a buffet in a ravenous state will short-circuit your body’s hunger signals and you’ll end up eating more. Way more.
Instead of depriving yourself, eat a filling snack or a small meal before the event. When your stomach is satisfied, you’ll be able to hear your body’s signals more clearly.
2. Meet the meal
Before loading up your plate, make friends with the entire culinary spread. Is there a sushi bar? A meat carving station? A fountain dripping with melted dark chocolate? Get to know them all.
Making the rounds before you dig in will help you make the best choices for yourself. Without knowing all the options, you’re likely to feel you may have missed out on some goodies, and won’t feel satisfied.
3. Use the tiny saucer plates. Or the gigundo dinner plates. Whatever.
Pretty much every nutrition guru will tell you that filling up your small plate will trick your mind into feeling like you just consumed a bountiful meal when you really just ate two mini quiches and a pitiful portion of sesame noodles.
While this may be true, eating off a pixie-sized plate also might just leave you feeling like the kid whose mother packed him a sunflower seed trail mix while all his friends are chowing down on marshmallow fudge brownies.
In other words, you might feel mega deprived.
So, choose an extra-large plate if that’ll make you feel satisfied. Or, stick with the teeny plates if you want. As Socrates would say, “Know thyself, sista’!”
4. Be a feinschmecker
noun, plural fein·schmeck·er.
Whether or not you ever heard this word from your Bubby, you can still rock the feinschmecker persona when it comes to your food.
Being a picky gourmand at a buffet will help you enjoy only the dishes you love — and leave the stuff you don’t.
Just like the money in your wallet, the available space in your stomach is limited! Set aside space for the special stuff: the caviar sushi, the Italian pastries, or that gorgeous spinach salad with pomegranate arils that you’d never in a million years have the patience to assemble yourself.
5. Grab a seat
If you eat standing up, it doesn’t count, right?
Food eaten on the run does, in fact, count, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
If you eat while standing up, your food is 29.987% less tasty, 42.331% less satisfying, and you will ingest 61% more food while experiencing triple the amount of indigestion (scientific facts).
If there is no seating available, it’s worth putting in the effort to find a place to sit. Go seek a chair from the chuppah room, or simply plop yourself down on the buffet right next to the omelet chef. Yes — enjoying your food in a seated position is that important.
6. Have a hot drink
Pairing a tea or coffee with your dessert will keep you hydrated, slow you down, and help you savor the food in front of you. Plus, the calming effect of a hot drink will counteract the frenetic “so much food, so little time” atmosphere that can permeate a crowd anytime there’s a smorgasbord around.
7. Stay social
Stay mindful of why you’re here in the first place — to party! A celebration or a family gathering is for keeping in touch with your nearest and dearest, as well as relatives and acquaintances you may not have seen for a long time.
When you’ve eaten your fill, grab a drink and go get your social butterfly on.
If you ended up eating more than you planned to, don’t fret. Just act like an athlete: dust yourself off and get back in the game!