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How to eat less at a Buffet

Buffets allow unlimited amounts of varied food to be eaten at a fixed price. Thus, they allow customers to take large portions, and in many  cases they supply energy-dense food at a relatively low price. As customers are free to help themselves to extra portions, the price factor is not acting as a brake on excessive intake, therefore, buffets are the “perfect” environment for facilitating excessive energy intake.

eat less at a buffet

It seems that what ends up on a buffet diner’s plate is depended by the presentation order of food. Rearranging food order from healthiest to least healthy can result toward a healthier meal.

Health-conscious diners, can proactively start at the healthier end of the line,

and this same basic principle of “first foods most” may be relevant in other contexts – such as when serving or passing food at family dinners.

Serving immediately rather than surveyed the options fırst, using larger plates, and sitting facing the buffet are considered to be contextual factors that increase food intake because deliberative thinking is essential for healthy food choices, and larger portion size and higher salience of foods are associated with increased intake.


Tips for not overdoing it at buffets:
  1. Find a table far away from the buffet. Keep your back toward the buffet

  2. Look over the entire buffet before filling your plate.

  3. Decide how much to eat before you look at the buffet. Your eyes may be bigger than your stomach

  4. Imagine your plate is divided in quadrants. Fill ½ the plate with vegetables (or fruits), ¼ with protein (e.g. lean meat) and the other ½ with carbohydrates (e.g. whole grain bread, rice, potato)

  5. Eat slowly to control your food intake

  6. Start your meal with a small salad.

  7. Harmonize your flavors. A meal made up of many different flavors may stimulate you appetite, causing you to eat more

eat less at a buffet

Relevant Scientific articles:

  • Dai J, Cone J, Moher J. Perceptual salience influences food choices independently of health and taste preferences. Cogn Res Princ Implic. 2020 Jan 3;5(1):2. doi: 10.1186/s41235-019-0203-2. PMID: 31900744; PMCID: PMC6942074.

  • Wansink B, Hanks AS. Slim by design: serving healthy foods first in buffet lines improves overall meal selection. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 23;8(10):e77055. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077055. PMID: 24194859; PMCID: PMC3806736.

  • Wansink B, Shimizu M. Eating behaviors and the number of buffet trips: an observational study at all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurants. Am J Prev Med. 2013 Apr;44(4):e49-e50. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.11.030. PMID: 23498113.

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