Sticking to Your Diet at a Buffet

Buffets can be hazardous to your diet! Whether at a party, wedding reception, or all-you-can-eat restaurant, you’re surrounded by temptation. Use these suggestions to make healthier food choices and keep the calories under control while you enjoy your meal.

Making Better Food Choices at a Buffet

  1. Browse your options. Scientists at Cornell University studied the differences between how diners approached a buffet. They found that 71% of leaner people scanned the offerings first to narrow down their choices while heavier diners tended to grab a plate and pile it up immediately.

  2. Load up on vegetables. Most nutritionists recommend devoting half your plate to vegetables and fruits. This is always good for your health and goes a long way toward making any buffet meal lighter.

  3. Learn to count calories. Avoid underestimating the calories in certain foods. Vegetable dishes have a lot of calories once they get breaded and fried or smothered in cheese. Beware of creamy soups and most salad dressings.

  4. Practice portion control. You can usually incorporate your favorite treats into your diet if you keep the portions moderate. A teaspoon of nuts liven up a salad but eating them by the handful could put you over your limit.

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Additional Suggestions

  1. Use smaller plates. Most people make only one or two return trips to the buffet. Smaller dishes will reduce the amount of food you can fit on each trip and make the experience seem more abundant.

  2. Sit at a distance. Make it more challenging to go back for more by sitting on the other side of the room. Avoid lingering around the table where you’ll be in danger of picking at the food for much longer than you intended.

  3. Face away from the buffet. Keeping fried chicken out of mind is easier when you keep it out of sight. Turn your chair in the opposite direction from the dessert selections.

  4. Drink lots of water. Staying well hydrated is good for your overall health and energy levels and helps you to feel full sooner. You’ll save calories compared to drinking alcoholic cocktails, which could also lower your resistance to over-enjoying the chocolate cheesecake.

  5. At social events, focus on socializing. Pay more attention to the guests and less to your plate. Get caught up in conversation and dancing so you’ll forget about wanting to eat more.

  6. Wear fitted clothing. Leave your stretchy long sweaters at home. Clothes that fit closer to your body will help remind you to eat sensibly. Stop yourself before you feel the need to loosen your belt.

  7. Order off the menu. Many restaurants will give you the choice to order off the menu or eat from the buffet. Opt for a single dish if the buffet looks fattening. Even if the buffet costs less, you save money in the long run by staying fit.

  8. Eat more slowly. If you make your food last longer, you’ll have less time to go back for more. Plus, you give your brain a chance to notify your stomach that you’re beginning to feel full.

“All-you-can eat” is a description, not a challenge. Slow down and be more selective about what you put on your buffet plate. You’ll eat less and enjoy your food more.

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15 Ways to Cut 100 Calories a Day

Modest changes to your diet add up. Cutting just 100 calories a day translates into a 10-pound weight loss in one year.

Deprivation diets set you up to backslide because you can’t survive on grapefruit and celery sticks for long. On the other hand, starting small allows you to make lasting lifestyle changes with less effort and discomfort. The only thing you’ll notice will be your shrinking waistline.

Changing the Way You Eat

  1. Focus on fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least 5 servings a day of fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables. They’re nutrient-dense so you’ll feel full while eating less.

  2. Redo your salad. Some salads are more fattening than a fast food burger. Steer clear of bacon, extra cheese, croutons, and creamy dressings. Pile up leafy greens and other vegetables instead. Add protein with grilled fish or chicken.

  3. Budget your sweets. An occasional treat can make it easier to stick to your diet. Plan ahead for how you want to spend your sugar calories. A half ounce of dark chocolate has about 100 calories.

  4. Carry snacks. You’re less likely to overeat if you eat before you’re ravenous. Keep cut vegetables and peanut butter in the office refrigerator. Pack a cooler with hummus and baby carrots.

  5. Slow down. You’ll be satisfied with less food if you give your brain a chance to realize that your stomach is full. Pull up a chair and savor your meals. Chew each mouthful carefully.

  6. Reduce portions. You can enjoy a wide variety of foods like ice cream or baked ziti if you stick to a reasonable serving size. Learn to eyeball what four ounces of meat or one ounce of cheese looks like.

Changing the Way You Drink

  1. Skip soda. A 12-ounce can of cola has 140 calories, and they’re all sugar. Drop the soda habit or have a calorie-free club soda.

  2. Limit juice. A cup of orange juice has about 130 calories. Opt for a small orange with 45 calories and more fiber.

  3. Rethink milk. Trade in whole milk for low-fat or skim milk. Soy milk has even more protein and fewer calories, but check the label to avoid added sugars.

  4. Enjoy cocktail hour. A Bloody Mary has only 125 calories compared to 500 in the average Margarita. Wine and light beer are also good choices.

  5. Whip up smoothies. Drink a meal. Choose ingredients that provide complex carbohydrates and protein like green vegetables, berries, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, protein powder, and flax seeds.

  6. Slim down coffee. There are almost 50 calories in a tablespoon of sugar, and 20 in the same amount of half-and-half. Gradually cut back by half.

  7. Brew tea. Tea has no calories, and it’s full of phytochemicals that protect your health. Enjoy it hot or cold.

Losing weight is easy when you cut calories in places where they won’t be missed. Eat a little less each day, and exercise regularly so you can reach your fitness goals.