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Buffet Eating in Paradise

November 6, 2012 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

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My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary with a week at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico (without the kids!).

It was a wonderful week of swimming and relaxing at the pool, walking along the beach, snorkeling…and eating. While there are many advantages to this type of vacation, the abundance of food can be overwhelming.

Here are six tips to help you manage the buffet, and other non-stop eating and drinking situations:

  1. Before you take a plate, walk around the buffet and see what’s being offered. Decide what foods really appeal to you, and what you can pass up. Once you’ve made some decisions, grab your plate.
  2. Try using a salad or dessert plate instead of the regular dinner plate. Research supports that using a smaller plate will likely leave you feeling satisfied with a smaller amount of food. 
  3. Start your meals with a broth-based soup, a salad, or fruit. This will help curb your hunger and lead to a less frenzied attack of the rest of the buffet.
  4. Focus on local cuisine. Not only is it a perfect chance to try new foods, they will probably be prepared with greater expertise and be tastier. If you’re slowly savouring your food, you’re likely to be satisfied sooner. 
  5. You don’t need to finish everything on your plate. Don’t waste food, but if you try something and it doesn’t excite you, put it to the side.
  6. Conquer your thirst with water. The calories in sugary drinks add up quickly. Studies show that beverages don’t satisfy hunger the same as solid food – so eat your calories rather than drinking them.

Away from the buffet table, incorporate activity into your day. A relaxing vacation doesn’t mean you have to lay by the pool the whole time. Be adventurous: join a water aerobics class, a game of beach volleyball, or a poolside dance class.  It’s comforting to remember that these people will never see you again!

At the end of the day, whether it’s a buffet at an all-inclusive or at a local restaurant during the holiday season, when it comes to healthy eating, it’s what we do most of the time that counts.

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