Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I buffet, do you?

I have heard a lot of people say that a buffet restaurant is a diabetics nightmare.  I do admit that a buffet can go horribly wrong if you have absolutely no self control.  For me, a buffet is a chance to eat a lot of great food that I don't get to eat very often.

Not all buffets are alike.
When I was first diagnosed, I tried several different buffets.  I found that some were easier to eat healthy than others.  So, it's important to look at what kind of food is served.  For example, I find it very difficult to eat at a Chinese buffet, but I can pig out at an American buffet.

Start with a ginormous salad.
I start at the salad portion of the buffet and make a huge salad with some protein in it (because it's filling).  I get egg, ham or something like that.  I pile it on and make the largest, tastiest, carb free salad I can possibly make.

Keep it small after that.
My Hubby goes up to the buffet 3 times or so.  If I were to load my plate 2 times after salad, I'd definitely have trouble.  So, I just get little bits of food a couple times instead.

1 Non-starchy vegetable.
The hot foods are my favorite part of the buffet.  Usually, an American buffet will have several different non-starchy vegetable options (green beans, cabbage, broccoli etc...).  So, I always make 1/2 the food on my plate a non-starchy vegetable.  Think about it.  If you go up to the salad bar and load your plate, then have non-starch veggies with every other plate you get, you're filling up on veggies.  This is a GOOD thing!

1 Starch
After I grab my hot veggie, I look for something that is a treat and get one carb serving of it.  A piece of fried chicken, a small scoop of mashed potatoes, a roll, a small scoop of macaroni and cheese etc...

The trick is to take time to scope.
I find that I need to take time at a buffet.  Before I get my first plate of hot food, I walk the buffet and look at all the food options.  This way, I don't miss something and get to the "Oh, I didn't know that was there...I want some of that!" place.  That's where buffets go horribly wrong for me.  When I scope, I get to pick the foods I'm really hungry for.  Sometimes I change my mind, but it's because I already knew what was there and chose one thing over another.  Surprises are dangerous, knowledge keeps me on track.

Now, eat!  Twice!!!
Once I've got my 1 non-starchy veggie and one starch, I go eat.  Then I repeat and get another plate with 1 non-starchy veggie and 1 carb.

Don't forget dessert!
One of my favorite parts of a buffet is the dessert.  Sometimes, you can get a 1 carb serving sized brownie or a sliver of pie (vs. the regular sized piece of pie).  Most non-diabetics get 2-3 desserts so the restaurant tries to keep it small for them.  However, it's perfect for me!  It means I get to treat myself to one dessert that's extra special.

Flexibility is important.
Sometimes, I'm not jonesing for dessert, so I'll choose to get one more carb from the hot foods.  Other times, I'll skip my third carb and opt for more veggies.  I allow myself the freedom to choose how I want to eat my carbs every time I eat at a buffet.  I stick to my 3 carb serving limit, but I get to eat some extra special foods.

What are your buffet tricks?  How do you make it work?

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