11 Tips For Eating At The Buffet Without Feeling Terrible At The End

I’m not saying you should make a habit of eating at the buffet. But there are times when you are given the opportunity or find yourself there (ex. vacation, or family gatherings) so you might as well accept and enjoy with a strategy rather than guilt and shame .

Here are some ways that I ensure that I am energized by my buffet meal rather than exiting it feeling like a guilt-ridden and exhausted mess.

  1. Remember your food combining rules – animal protein and starchy foods don’t mix in the same meal. If you’re going to enjoy some chicken, beef or fish, then you’ll need to lay off the pasta and rice. Eating an equal amount of both will leave you feeling very tired and uncomfortable.
  2. Remember my Balanced Meal Model – each meal should be comprised of about 70% Green Veggies, 25% protein, 4% starch and 1% healthy fat – you’ll find all of those things at the buffet. Allocate appropriately and you’ll digest without issue and leave the restaurant with rock-solid blood sugar and energy to bounce through the rest of your day or evening.
  3. Start with protein, rather than starch – buffets are often set up with starchy, filling and nutrient-free foods at the beginning so you’ll fill up on things that cost very little to produce. Begin with your protein and a large amount dark leafy greens so that you guarantee that your meal will nourish you. Then move onto the starchier items later on, preferably at the very end of your visit.
  4. If eating meat, eat it rare rather than deep fried – The more cooked food is (and this includes animal protein) the harder it’s going to be for the body to break it down, which will take up more energy and leave you feeling tired after the meal. If the item is breaded and deep fried then it is not only breaking the food combining principle, but the high temperature of the unhealthy oil in the fryer raises the temperature of the meat to a point where it is no longer digestible by your body. It will simply cause you discomfort once you’ve taken it in. I usually start at the station with the employee slicing roast beef for patrons. I ask them to give me the rarest slice they can. This way I know the food is cooked, but that it will be as digestible as possible so my energy level remains high.
  5. Use hot sauce or hot pepper flakes to stimulate the digestion of protein – hot and spicy or bitter foods stimulate the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach which will ensure that your meal gets efficiently broken down and builds your tissues rather than your fat cells.
  6. Consider choosing one kind of animal protein – Combining different meats at the same meal is hard on the digestive system because different meats require different acidity levels of the stomach. If you can, pick one and enjoy it in different forms. For example, if I’ve started with a slice of roast beef  with a large salad on my first sojourn up to the buffet, I might look for stir fried beef with broccoli the second time I go up.
  7. Take your time – there is no hurry. If you are at the buffet with family or friends, then take time to talk with them and enjoy their company while you digest each plate-full of food. Don’t just enjoy the food – enjoy the company, too, and you will feel much better both physically and emotionally by the end of the meal.
  8. Skip dessert or have it first – Throwing a sugary dessert on top of a huge meal in your stomach will shut your digestion down. You’ll suddenly have  gas, a feeling of extreme fullness and discomfort, possibly acid reflux, and you’ll desperately want a nap all of a sudden. Have the dessert first and wait 20 minutes before starting the main meal or skip it all together. There is plenty of other food there to stimulate your palate.
  9. Do not have a coffee afterward – coffee after a meal simply flushes the stomach contents, undigested, into your unsuspecting small intestine. You’ve now wasted that meal and have potentially damaged your intestinal wall in the process. If you combine your food properly then you won’t feel overly full (even if you eat a lot) and you won’t need the coffee for relief.
  10. Have a peppermint tea instead – if you feel uncomfortably full when you’re done or if you are feeling gassy have a mint tea instead of a coffee. It will aid with proper digestion of the food and relieve gas rather than emptying your stomach prematurely.
  11. Enjoy yourself – Perhaps you are a person who takes great care about trying to control what you put in your body and the last place you want to be is in a buffet where you question the quality of the food and the ethics of watching people gorge themselves on all kinds of foods. None of that matters to your own personal situation. I view  a buffet as an opportunity to be selective about what I eat and still enjoy the variety of foods I may normally not have access to. There is no need to feel guilt going into a buffet meal, thinking you are going to overeat and how it’s going to negatively affect your waistline. The stress associated with guilt will interfere with the digestion of the meal. If you eat food that you know is healthy for you and you eat it in a way that minimizes interference with your body’s attempts to digest it,  then you’ll find you can enjoy a buffet meal and exit it feeling great and appreciating it for what it should be – a special ocassion.

Follow these tips at any restaurant or social gathering where you cannot predict the menu. This is a great way to enjoy food, life and the company of others. Your body and mind will thank you!

Watch my video above on the same topic. Please share this article if you find it helpful.

Chris Carlone, CNP

I help people transform their health and their finances. Anything else? EVERYTHING comes next.

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