How to Eat Smart at a Buffet
No more bingeing!
Next time you face an irresistible all-you-can-eat spread, follow these tips gleaned from recent studies of buffet behaviors.
Sit far away
"The average person makes three trips to the buffet—and five or more is not uncommon," says Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University. "My research showed that for every 40 feet farther away from the buffet that people sat, they made one trip fewer."
If you have no control over where you're sitting—suppose you're assigned a table at a wedding that's a couple of steps away from the carving station—position yourself so your back is to the food.
"Not being able to see the buffet is almost as effective as not being near it," Wansink says.
Scout your options
"Thin people are two times more likely than overweight people to look over the entire buffet before taking anything," Wansink says.
If you already know all the dishes available, you can make smart decisions from the start rather than, say, scooping up the chicken Parmesan before seeing the shrimp scampi—and ending up eating full servings of both.