Fighting the ‘buffet bug’: how to prevent overeating at hotels, events and buffets

The struggle is real guys! It is crazy just how often these days are we faced with celebrations, functions, and all you can eat specials (just to name a few!) where we find ourselves inundated with food. And with school holidays having just started, many people will be holidaying at hotels with buffets as well. That is why I wanted to touch on how to manage these situations in this post.

I particularly struggle with the buffets at hotels. Apart from the ‘I can eat whatever I want because I’m on holiday’ mindset, there is the fact that I usually want to taste each and every dish on the buffet (maybe twice). The reality is that overeating once or twice a day (maybe even three times a day like when I was in the Maldives!) for the length of your holiday will have a detrimental effect on your nutrition and body goals. Having tried the eat-as-much-as-you-like-cause-you’re-on-holiday-and-you’ve-paid-for-it approach, I can tell you first hand that it is not nearly as gratifying as it sounds.

I’ve literally only gotten eating at a buffet on holiday right once in my life, and that was on my most recent trip to the Seychelles. And you know what? I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything, I didn’t need to spend 2 hours lying down just to digest my breakfast every day, and I could fly back home wearing the same jeans that I wore on the way there! So below are a few tips that I found really helpful in managing the ‘buffet bug’ (these can be applied to any other situation where you will be exposed to endless amounts of delicious food as well):

  • Drink two glasses of water 10 minutes before you even go to the restaurant. This allows you to have an accurate gauge on how hungry you are and not mistake your thirst for hunger.
  • Stay clear of the juice, stick with water, tea or coffee.
  • Walk around once first before you start dishing up your food and decide on what genuinely appeals to you.
  • Remember that if you are there for a few days there is no need to try everything in one meal – space it out.
  • Give the bread a miss, and always start by filling your plate up with the good stuff – salads and vegetables. This will make your plate look very full and you will be less likely to overload it with the other stuff.
  • Sit as far away from the buffet as possible, and choose a seat that doesn’t face it. In this way you are making it slightly harder to go back for seconds and thirds, and there is a bit of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ psychology at play. Read this interesting study on the different amounts that people ate at buffets based on where they sat. Basically, any small barrier you put between you and the food will decrease the likelihood of you eating it.
  • Lastly, before going back for more, relax for 10 minutes and then genuinely reflect on whether or not you are actually still hungry.
  • This is a great and testing way to practice your mindful eating habits!

I hope this helps in some way, I put these into practice this last holiday and they really proved quite effective. Happy holidaying!

Further reading:

Eating behaviour and obesity at Chinese Buffets – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1038/oby.2008.286/asset/oby.2008.286.pdf;jsessionid=BDCAC6778155A6170E79E2F70831A2F3.f03t03?v=1&t=j10jy27t&s=35a5ed6ecd2840fbbb88cf5a55e358353050dbba

All you can eat: behavioural evidence from Taiwan – ftp://ftp.repec.org/opt/ReDIF/RePEc/ibf/ijmmre/ijmmr-v7n2-2014/IJMMR-V7N2-2014-3.pdf

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