Tips and tricks to help you game the all-you-can-eat buffet
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Buffets allow you to enjoy multiple plates of all your favourite and never-before tried dishes—all at a fraction of the cost of an à la carte menu. Not to forget that the dishes on display at a buffet are ready to be relished immediately and you get to decide the portion size.

Now that you’ve religiously been following a healthy diet, here are quick tips to get the most of your money's worth from a buffet without compromising your health. So loosen your belts and splurge on both, money and calories with this guide:

Do Your Research
Call up the restaurant to find out about what's included in the buffet deal, and what's not. You don't want any surprises on the bill. More importantly, look up on the difference between lunch and dinner selections. While the offerings for both meals will be similar, restaurants usually offer great discounts over lunch—it is also a better time to pig out since you’ve got the rest of the day to digest everything.

Before You Go  
Some form of cardio or light exercise will get your heart racing, kick-starting your metabolism thereby increasing your appetite by the time you sit down to eat. Keep drinking water through the day; your body needs to be well hydrated in order to break down whatever will be goes down your throat. Besides, make sure you don’t starve yourself or gorge yourself silly right before you head to the buffe—give your stomach a winning chance to sample as many dishes as possible at a value. Lastly, there’s no point in setting out in a pair of jeans you can barely breathe in. Thank Joey Tribbiani, actor Matt Le Blanc’s character in sitcom Friends, who normalised the concept of thanksgiving pants—put your fashion game to rest and instead slip into your comfy pants.

Get an Overview
Before you get excited with all that is on offer at the buffet, it’s important that you give the spread a glance over before filling up your plate. Restaurants tend to put more filling and carb-heavy foods at the start of a buffet; it’s a play on human psychology that you will subconsciously fill up on them. The best approach is to keep an eye out for dishes that you haven’t tried before or would like to try, and then accordingly plate up. Once you know what all’s there, and where you can find it, you can then put your meal together. And while at it, it’s always good to start off with a bowl of soup or salad, as the high-water content in them makes it easier for your body to process and warm you up to take in more.

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Opt for a Round Out Meal
Rather than going all in on one dish, fill your plate up with a little bit of everything. Prioritise the foods you do not usually get to eat. Moreover, trying a little of everything will help break the monotony of tastes, allowing you to decide which dish tastes best so that accordingly you can go back for seconds or thirds (we’re not judging). We’ve already said this before and will say it again: If you really want to have your money’s worth, stay away from deep fried foods, or anything that has potatoes, breads, pasta and white rice.

Drink Up
Avoid sugary and fizzy drinks at all costs. They just add empty calories and fill you up. Substitute your drinks, even alcohol, with plain water instead. Moreover, adding a slice of lemon to your water could do wonders—lemon is known to aid digestion, reduce bloating and prevent heartburn. 

Practise Mindful Eating
Enjoy the food that’s on your plate, and take your time with the experience. Slow eating has many benefits, the first being that it allows you to be conscious of what you’re eating and second, it helps you avoid overeating. Moreover, chewing your food thoroughly will make you feel less bloated later. It’s also a good ideas to sip on some peppermint or ginger tea in between meals as they too aid digestion, and can help soothe your stomach, reduce bloating and prevent nausea in case you’ve overdone it. 

Image: Shutterstock 

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