How to Eat Healthy at a Buffet with Kids
Eating healthy with the family By Lily Aronin
Eat healthy, even at a buffet (Flickr: University of Exeter)
A buffet dinner is an invitation to overindulgence. In fact, many people see a buffet meal as great way to save money by eating enough for an entire day in one meal. However, what if you want to make a decision about what to eat based on what's best for you and not what's the best way to get your money's worth? To make healthy choices at a buffet, you need to focus on enjoying the plethora of options you did not have to prepare and value the ability to be picky about what you want to eat.
In order to make the most of a buffet experience in a healthy way, begin the meal before you even grab your plate. Take a tour of all of the options. Taste every dish in your mind and spark your appetite. You can have everything you see, but what do you want to eat? Once you have a good feeling of all of the options and have really enjoyed seeing the whole buffet of textures, flavors and colors, you are ready to grab your large plate.
The large plate is for salads. Make the most of salad bar and build a salad that doesn't have every condiment, nut, and crouton, or smothered in three dressings, but is exactly what you want to eat without having to do all of the chopping, washing or shopping. Fill up your plate with vegetables and pick two fun add-ins like a nut mix or 1 tablespoon of cheese, then drizzle 1 tablespoon of dressing over your salad. Then go and enjoy your food. You can spend this time focusing on the company of friends and family and relaxing. Let those first pangs of hunger subside and when everyone is going for their second helping, you return to enjoy your main dishes.
Now since you are not overly hungry you can choose wisely and know that you can enjoy your choices slowly without the pressure to get up again. Take the smaller salad-sized plate and fill half of it with either a variety of proteins, like chicken, fish and meat or choose the one dish that really entices you. On the other side of that plate, mix some cooked vegetables and starchy sides. Here is where you can add the rice, potatoes, or pasta to the green beans or other vegetable side dish. Just make sure not to overload your plate - pretend you are a little kid who doesn't like his food to mix and leave some room between the dishes. When you complete your choices, start with another cup of water, and remind yourself to slow down and savor.
The most shocking thing about taking your time with a buffet is how much more satisfying you will find the experience. Instead of winning the game of out-eating the cost of the buffet, you can feel proud that you really enjoyed a chance to have family-style meal with friends or family without worrying about ordering, splitting the check or getting terrible service. Buffets are a great way to eat out with children and with family and friends because there is something for everyone, and you don't have to worry about overspending. Now, it is healthy as well.
Lily Aronin contributed this to MiniTime. She is a health and wellness expert who loves helping people create completely personalized "roadmaps to health," tailor-made for individual bodies, lifestyles, preferences, and goals.