It’s party season, and the lure of a fabulous buffet can wreak havoc with your diet. Why is it so hard to just step away from the buffet line and let someone else get at the food? Nutracheck’s nutritionist, Emma Brown, explains why.
“Buffets are extremely hard to resist: there’s so much choice and the chance to try everything makes it difficult to resist loading up your plate. It’s hard to judge when enough is enough.
“Our brains evolved when food was scarce; we’re programmed to eat whenever we see food readily available. So the buffet concept just taps into our innate behaviour to take advantage of food while it’s there.
“To combat this, anything that reduces the ease and convenience of eating can help us beat the ‘buffet binge’. We need to rethink our behaviour to change how we eat. A bit of planning and a few simple behaviour tweaks can make a huge difference to how much we end up piling on our plate.”
5 easy ways to avoid the buffet blow out:
1) Distance yourself
Typical behaviour: You choose the table closest to the buffet table as it’s nice and convenient and you can reach the food easily. No wonder the average person makes three trips to the buffet!
Researchers have consistently found that the further away someone sat from the food, the less likely they were to make repeated trips – and the less food they ate.
2) Turn your back on food
Typical behaviour: With an array of delicious food staring you in the face, it’s tempting to go back for another sweep of the table.
We ‘eat with our eyes’ – so turn your back on the buffet. Research has found that people who sat facing away from the food table ate less.
3) Scan and plan
Typical behaviour: You grab a plate, join the buffet line and shuffle along the table picking up one of everything you pass – and then spot your favourite things further down the table. But it’s all on your plate now, so guess what – you eat the lot!
Take a few minutes to survey the entire buffet to check out what’s on offer before even touching a plate! Knowing your options can help avoid plate overload.
4) Suppress your appetite
Typical behaviour: You know you’re going to be eating at the event later so you decide to ‘save yourself’. By the time you arrive, you’re ready to devour the buffet table single handed.
Before going out, have a bowl of soup – it’s high in water and will take the edge off your appetite. Feeling fuller when you hit the buffet table means you’ll eat less.
5) Apply the 20 minute rule
Typical behaviour: There’s so much choice, you just bolt down the food –and then go straight back for more… then a bit more…
Once you’ve finished your plate, WAIT! It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message you’re actually pretty full. Eat slowly to give your brain time to catch up with your stomach.
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