squareJune 2007 Newsletter

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Watch Out For the Buffet.

Dear Fellow Business Traveler,

Whether it's your hotel's breakfast variety or you're at a conference in Vegas and surrounded by them, buffets abound when you are traveling.  We've all stood there, thinking that it all looks so good and wanting to try just a little of everything, only to leave feeling completely full and bloated to a whole new level.  In this month's Newsletter, we talk about buffets.  The good, the bad and the ugly. 

Be sure to check out our February 2007 Newsletter about International Travel for information about traveling abroad.

To Your Health, 
Healthy Travel Network

squarePeople really shouldn't eat all that they can eat.

1. A large sideboard with drawers and cupboards.
    a. A counter or table from which meals or refreshments are served.
    b. A restaurant having such a counter.
3. A meal at which guests serve themselves from various dishes displayed on a table or sideboard.
Informally served: a buffet luncheon.

The idea of a buffet is not a bad thing at all.  It usually offers a much wider variety of food than one can find on the menu as a meal option separately.  And even the American Dietetic Association (ADA) says that there are no bad foods.  Well, if there are no bad foods and conceptually buffets are not bad for you, then what is the problem? 


Problem 1.  What we choose.


Why does all of the fried food and starches at the buffet look so good?  When faced with the choice, most people will dive into the mac & cheese and mashed potatoes before going for the grilled veggies and salad.  At the buffet it’s that much easier to rationalize and indulge on impulse than when you are ordering off of a menu.  Since everything is there for the taking, we allow ourselves to go for it.


Problem 2.  How much we take.


Ironically, one of the good things about a buffet is that they have really good portion sizes.  The problem is that we end up taking so many of those little portion sizes, filling up our plate until it is spilling over and then going back for more.  I think part of it comes from our being hardwired to take advantage of a value.  Since we paid a flat price, we think should get all that we can out of our few bucks.


Problem 3.  How much we consume.


Even though a lot of us grew up around the “Clean Plate Club” mentality, we really don’t have to eat every last bite on our plate.  Certainly, grandpa was right when he said that we should, “take what we want and eat all we take.”  That’s a great philosophy that really implies we shouldn’t take so much in the first place.  But, our eyes are often much larger than our stomachs and we end up with way more food than we should consume. 


Here are a few tips to help you survive the buffet.


  • The body is not meant to consume such large numbers of calories at one time and if too many are consumed in one meal the body automatically starts to store them as fat.
  • Make it a point to start with salads, fresh fruits and vegetables (wet carbs) as these are not only lower in calories and fat, but full of vitamins and minerals.  If you can fill up mostly on those, you won’t be as tempted to dive into all of the bad stuff.
  • Try and stay away from the fried foods and empty calories, such as butters, oils, condensed sugars, etc.
  • The serving spoons at buffets are a perfect portion size for trying just enough of something.  You should only dish one spoon of anything.
  • Use the dessert or smaller plate as opposed to the large dinner plate.
  • Be sure and eat as slowly as possible.  Taking your time when eating will allow your stomach to catch up with your mouth and let you know when you’re full. 


Just remember it’s not the buffet’s fault.  Enjoy the food and take it easy.

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