Work Your Best Angle in the Buffet Line

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD

December 17, 2013

We all know the challenges involved in maintaining a healthier lifestyle. It requires vigilance to establish and practice our new habits in the different food environments and situations we encounter each day. Currently we are in the heart of the holiday season where sticking to the new plan becomes especially difficult. Temptation waits around every corner, whether it’s the cookies your coworker brought in, the lure of fast food while out shopping, or the barrage of choices at holiday gatherings. Our ability to choose wisely may falter, interfering with our hard-earned successes in achieving our healthier eating goals. Since holiday time often comes with a side-helping of additional stress, all of us would gratefully welcome any tip that will require little effort to enact, yet will significantly roll the dice in our favor when it comes to staying on track this time of year!

What is this effortless, important piece of advice that we can employ at the next party? According to recent studies, we simply need to start at the healthiest end of the buffet line! Apparently, we humans tend to zoom in on the first three items we encounter whether they are “in line” with our weight management goals or not. Why not take advantage of this natural human tendency and begin filling our plates at the lower calorie, nutrient-dense food (i.e. fruits, vegetables, lean meat, low-fat yogurt) end of the buffet table? As Cornell University researcher, Brian Wansink, points out, this simple strategy can save us unwanted calories, fat and post-party angst since we will end up filling 2/3 of our plate with the first three items we see anyways. Sounds like a “piece of cake” (which we’ll skip, thanks to the fact that our dessert plate is filled with fruit salad) to me!

The bottom line: peruse the entire buffet table, locate the healthiest fare and start there. Staying on track with our healthier lifestyle this holiday season just got a whole lot easier. Be sure you do this nonchalantly, as you don’t want to be accused of being a line-jumper!

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