Suggested Rules for Buffet Table Navigation

August 9, 2010 in Featured, General Nutrition by Joyce Bunderson

Buffet tables are challenging and alluring. Those attractive colors, textures, aromas, memories of past nibbling, and the countless varieties, captivate many a weight management resolve.

If you don’t want to be vulnerable in the face of a table full of choices, you may want to consider making a few decisions; ‘personal rules’ before the event. The reason I call them ‘personal rules’ is that each of us can decide what we think will work for us. We don’t have to stick to someone else’s idea of a safe buffet. One bit of advice: the more specific you are in your ‘rules’ the more likely that you will stick to them. For example, I will not eat too many chips vs. I will have a total of no more than 10 chips. Remember, they’re your rules.

The following are 12 ideas that may help you design some ‘personal rules’ to help you navigate a buffet table:

  1. Recognize cheese is a very high fat – saturated fat, high calorie food; maybe consider a rule of how much you will allow yourself, especially if you really enjoy it.
  2. Chips, often very processed and a source of trans and saturated fat. Do you want any? Do you want to limit them?
  3. While nuts are a healthy and delicious food, if you absent-mindedly chat and eat nuts by the handful, you could potentially be running up the calories. Nuts range in between 170 to 200 calories per ounce. It’s fairly easy to hold an ounce or more in one hand.
  4. Remember that the creamy dips are usually filled with fat. If you have vegetables or fruit, one possible resolve is to just dip a tiny corner of the vegetable or fruit to give a little taste.
  5. Don’t skip meals, in anticipation of a big meal. Eat something! Maybe some low fat protein like chicken, egg, or shrimp and a whole-wheat cracker – you can make the meal small, but don’t cut it out. Hunger is the best sauce for an out of control grazing experience at a buffet.
  6. Allow yourself some of the foods that are a special treat for you. Skip the everyday foods; that way you won’t feel deprived. Note: Feeling deprived often leads to overeating later.
  7. Try to remember that all of the foods, however small they appear, piece by piece, add up. Those seemingly small Hors d'oeuvres lined with pastry are potent calorie delivery systems.
  8. Shrimp, a common buffet table offering, is only 30 calories per ounce. Be careful with the crab mixed with cheese, dip or stuffing. Return to idea one above – cheese is generally not a low calorie or low fat item.
  9. Little cream puffs, éclairs, cookies, mini-pies, and layer cakes have a powerful voice, calling our personal names. Consider allowing yourself only one choice, or a one-inch square taste of two or three, or whatever ‘personal rule’ you believe that you can stick to.
  10. Consider using a plate. If you allow yourself to pick up a piece of this or that it doesn’t seem to impact the total volume, the same as seeing it all on the plate at once. You can think of what you normally eat for dinner – picture the volume.
  11. My biggest hint is to get away from the party table. Get involved in conversation or a game or whatever it takes to get you away from the allure of nibbles being right under your fingers.
  12. If you’re not near your treadmill or the gym, maybe you can take a walk around Aunt Martha’s farm, or the town that she lives in. Don’t put your exercise on holiday.