Conquering the buffet

The weather is getting warmer and soon enough you may want to enjoy an open-air buffet brunch with friends or you may start to get invitations to events and weddings where the food is served buffet style. What can you do to stay safe and avoid overeating?

Food safety and hygiene first!

  • Don’t touch the food with your hands. Use the assigned cutlery for each dish only. So, for instance, don’t use the same spoon for a hot dish then a cold one in order to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Check that the cold dishes are kept in the refrigerator or placed on ice, and that the hot dishes are kept over a heated buffet server at a temperature above 60 degrees Celsius (140 F).
  • Use a clean plate for every time you go to the buffet (They shouldn’t be many anyway!).
  • Avoid sushi, raw clams, unbaked desserts and similar foods if you don’t know how long they have been sitting there without proper refrigeration.
  • Be careful with salads and salad dressings especially those that are mayo-based.
  • Trust your senses. Food can look and taste good and still cause food poisoning, so if it looks unusual or suspicious don’t even taste it!

Avoid the “All you can eat” trap second!

  • Drink a glass of water before the meal. It will help you feel fuller faster.
  • Don’t starve yourself. Have light meals throughout the day and you’ll avoid eating everything in sight when the buffet time comes.
  • Ask yourself: What are the foods that will make me feel satisfied and wholesome as opposed to sluggish and overly full? If it weren’t ”eat all you can”, what would I choose? If I were ordering a la carte, what would I have eaten?  
  • Use a dessert plate instead of a larger one. You would be practicing good portion control and tricking your mind into thinking you are getting more.
  • Skip the breads and butter on the table.
  • Start with the salads, grilled vegetables and lean meats first.
  • One study showed that people who put all they wanted to eat, including dessert, on one plate tend to eat 14% less than those who put smaller amounts and went for seconds.
  • If you want to have dessert, choose only one. If you had more savory options, choose fruits for dessert. However, if you had your eye since the beginning on the chocolate-fudge cake, go easy on the main dish. It’s an issue of balance and moderation.

And always remember, you don’t have to finish your plate and you don’t have to go back for seconds!

References:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2007/1202-mindless_eating.htm, http://www.foodsafety.gov/

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