Many men with big appetites have tapped out against the plethora of dishes a premium buffet offers. Even if you regularly eat three cups of rice every single meal, sometimes, it can seem as if you’re just no match against the variety spread in front of you.
Don’t feel defeated just yet. When it comes to buffets, it’s best to think less of the volume you eat but rather the number of dishes you get to try. Heck, you can even indulge a little without sabotaging your gains at the gym. How do you go about that? Follow these eight simple strategies.
Do your recon, then attack
Don’t make the mistake of holding an empty plate and digging in as you go along. That leads to what’s called takaw-mata. The result: You’ll end up with food you might not fancy after all.
Your move: Check what’s on the spread first. This allows you to see dishes that you don’t normally get to eat while disregarding ones you can eat at other restaurants. If you’re being strict with yourself, you also get to note how each dish is cooked and pick ones that suit your current meal plan, says Dave Clark Sison, M.Sc., R.N.D., assistant professor at the Philippine Women’s University School of Nutrition.
Ditch liquid saboteurs
Drinking sweet drinks as you eat might help cleanse your palate, but it’s the fastest way to stuff yourself. According to Sison, the largest source of extra calories during meals is soups and drinks. Stick with good old water so you can try more dishes and get your money’s worth. Skip the unli-alcohol, too. You’re there to eat, and not drink.
Avoid lovely carbs
Sure, the nice bread selection looks inviting, so does sushi rolls and pasta but these will easily fill you up. If you’re just starting your buffet journey, “go for lighter fare on your first course like a salad or something from the cold seafood bar,” shares Chef Ed Bugia, owner of Pino and Pipino restaurants and one of the partners of the Backyard Kitchen+Brew chain.
Reverse the way you eat
If you’re doing your best to keep your portions in check, start with a plate of fruits first. “This will help you consume less of the sinful foods available,” advises Alex Callanta, P.N.-1, fitness trainer and Precise Nutrition Certified Coach at 360 Fitness Club in Pasig City. The upside: You get to pack in more vitamins and minerals, too.
Use a smaller plate
Think of this as a Jedi-mind trick when you’re in front of a buffet spread. Since the plate is smaller, you’ll easily fill it up and you’ll think you’re eating a lot already, says Callanta. Put spoonful servings of different dishes you wish to taste so that you get to try everything without overstuffing yourself.
Be smart with protein
When there’s an overwhelming selection of meat, there’s a tendency to pile everything on your plate. If you want to go heavy on the protein, “make sure you consume a variety. If there’s steak, don’t just stick with that,” advises Bugia. “Also, have palate cleansers like mint jelly for lamb, or horseradish for roasts so that sensors in your mouth don’t get fatigued.” With this strategy, you can have a little piece of each meat dish—which makes your buffet trip sulit.
End on a light note
Who doesn’t like dessert, right? But if you opt for cakes, that’s just plain heavy which will only stuff you further. Bugia suggests having ice cream if you’re looking for a sweet fix. You get to satisfy that craving with something that’s lighter in your belly.
Use guilt to balance things out
So, you went a little overboard on the food? Don’t feel too bad. According to Sison, you won’t gain weight overnight. Use the guilt to make sure you exercise portion control the very next day. While you’re at it, squeeze in a workout to ignite your inner furnace to burn it all off.
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