The Party Line: Buffets

'Tis the season to be eating down the party line: the buffet.

Fa, la, la, la, lookout! There are parties at school, at the office, at your friend's, the family's and you're even hosting one of your own next week. With the festive atmosphere and plentiful food, we run the risk of diving head first into the buffet table if don't take a little time to plan ahead and get our heads on straight.

Buffets are the most popular serving option out there. Unfortunately, dangers lurk between those lines!

Evil that lurks within the buffet lines:
  • Lots of food. Studies have shown the bigger the serving bowl, the more we tend to eat, so we have to hold the reins, dear, on how much we eat.
  • Wide variety. It's a party, so let's try it all, right? Bigger variety, we run the risk of turning into a food inhalation machine.
  • Hanging out by the table. It's fascinating to watch people at these parties, but so much of the meeting and greeting and all that party stuff goes on right next to the food table. Result? Too easy to reach for a refill of Chex mix or just one more mini pecan tart. Sometimes if you get really involved in a conversation, you won't even realized you've eaten more!
  • Lots of unhealthy food/not much healthy food. It becomes tougher to balance your treat choices with a nutrient-dense choice.
Our Buffet Line Battle Strategy:
  • Have a snack before you go. You'll hear this often from me: keeping your blood sugar level steady is key to managing your food! A small low fat yogurt or something from your survival stash is great.
  • Get a beverage in your hand when you get there--it gives you something to do with your hands instead of nibble. Water, diet soda, coffee or tea would be great. A small glass of wine, light beer, or one shot of alcohol with juice or sugar free mixer would be fine, too.
  • Scope out the buffet. What are the two yummiest looking things on the table? What are your healthiest choices? Note the location of the fruit and veggies!
  • Fill half you plate with fruits and veggies first. This leaves less room for less healthy foods, and increases the nutritional balance of nutrition on your plate---pretty tricky, huh?
  • Now add your top two picks--what you want the most--in small servings.
  • Tiny servings of anything else you want to taste goes on the rest of the plate. Don't take foods you can get at any time, unless you really want it. You are more special than that. Don't deprive yourself, but don't go overboard, either. We don't want pain afterward.
  • You should be able to see the plate when you look down from the top! This prevents overlapping heaps of foods :)
  • Now, sit down if chairs are available. If not, move yourself AWAY from the table. You need to stay well out of arm's reach of those goodies.
  • Fill your plate only once, unless you want extra fruits and veggies: first bite tastes as good as the last!
  • Grab two beverages if you catch yourself still wanting to nibble (coffee and water, for example, not 2 beers!) You may be called a two-fisted drinker, but it's really hard to dip into the bowl of chips when you have both your hands full. This trick has helped me with control so many times.
If you are the one giving the party, remember to include at least one beautiful tray of veggies and low fat dip, and another one of fresh fruit on toothpicks with a fun low fat dip.
A great fruit dip:
1 cup fat free (sugar-free, too if you'd like) vanilla yogurt
1 cup crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained well
1 cup fat free Cool Whip

Anne wrote in to mention that she made mini-fresh fruit kabobs at her annual party and lots more were eaten this year. Great idea! How about other ideas on what you serve for healthy dishes on your party's buffet line?