Who Says You Can’t Eat Right At The Buffet?

As schools start back up again I wanted to share some information with everyone that will be encountering buffet lines on a consistent basis. High schools, colleges, hospitals, and other work environments make it really easy to binge on food every day. Since I’ve been to college, and heard my share of people complaining about a “freshman 15” and the “sophomore 7”, I’m going to share some secrets with you on how to control yourself in any buffet line. After all, who says you can’t eat right at the buffet?

The first thing you have to understand is that a buffet will naturally make you want to eat things that you never had in mind in the first place.

There you are walking into the cafeteria planning on having a simple turkey sandwich. Moments later you’re walking to your seat with a pile of food that would feed a small army for a week!

buffet dining

Here are some tricks to keep in mind, especially if you know you will be encountering a buffet. It will help you keep your composure, instead of acting like you have been starved for 3 days on a remote island:

1 – Act like You’ve Eaten Food Before!

You have to realize that the sight of a bunch of food will automatically trigger your brain to want it all. Especially if you’re walking into the situation hungry, that will make it a lot harder to control.

Have in mind what you want to eat before hand. It’s almost like a shopping list when you go to the grocery store. It will keep you focused and block out the other food that’s not on your list.

Also, keep in mind that you will be eating a few hours later. Plan a small, low calorie snack before and after. That way you’re not going into the battlefield hungry. You’re also reassuring yourself that you don’t have to pig-out because you will have a snack a little later.

2 – Portion It Out

Size counts in everything when your in the buffet battlefield. That includes the plate sizes and all. If there are options for smaller plates (salad plates are often smaller), then only use those.

A bigger plate will make it look like you don’t have a lot of food, even if you really have more than enough.

eating at a buffet

The only thing that you want big is the water cup. That will fill you up so you don’t eat as much. It’s also important to stay hydrated.

Think about everything that you’re putting on your plate and be honest with yourself. Is it a single portion? Or are you being greedy. You can always come back for more.

3 – You Are Only As Good As The People Around You

Surround yourself with people who have self control, knowledge about nutrition, and have good eating habits.

Studies suggest that we are all keen to observe the eating habits of the people around us. You are more likely to imitate someone with a healthy plate, than if you are eating by yourself.

4 – Pay With Cash

If you have cash, pay with that. You’re less likely to let go of cash if you see the real stuff leaving your hand. That way you’ll think twice about if you really need that extra serving or not.

It’s not a bad thing to have a meal plan. They can be really convenient, especially when you’re on the run. Just try cash for a few days and see how it affects your eating habits.

5 – Only Take The Plates…..Then Hold On To Them

By leaving a tray behind, and only carrying your plate, you have to use your room wisely. Get the stuff that has the most nutritional value. Fill up one plate with as much clean calories as you can. Then use the other hand for a big cup of water.

If you’re at a buffet restaurant with waiters/waitresses, they may try to sneak off with all your used dishes and bring you clean ones. Hold onto the dishes that you already used. That way you can see how much damage you’ve done in the buffet line.

6 – Chew, Chew, Then Chew Some More!!!

Take your time while your eating by chewing thoroughly. It takes a while for your brain to realize that your stomach is full (about 20-30 minutes). Give yourself time to feel that full feeling by enjoying every mouthful and chewing properly.

Right when you think you’re done eating stick a piece of gum in your mouth. That will deter the idea of dessert from popping in your head.


By all means go eat a buffet and enjoy yourself, but remember to use these tips to have some self control. I hope you liked these tips. Leave a comment below and tell us about any other tips that work for you. Please take a few seconds to share this on faceook. You might also be wondering, is organic food really better for you?

Adam Pegg About Adam Pegg

Adam is an athlete with a serious passion for fitness and health. He played basketball at University of Delaware and Stetson. His degree is in health science and he's a certified personal trainer who loves helping people reach their goals.