Thursday, June 18, 2009

Psychology of eating in Buffets

Over the past three days, I have been attending training at a hotel. As most of you know, when you attend training / seminars, they really feed you well. Morning break, Buffet lunch and evening break. I don’t think anyone comes back from a training and said “I wish they provided more food”.

Anyway, the problem for me is when it came to lunch. Buffet lunches are always my weakness. I love to try new and different things and of course since it is unlimited, I like to put that “unlimitedness” to the test. Meaning stuffing my face as much as I can, especially since it’s free. And then, like most of you, I feel sick and of course bad for eating so much.

So I sat down and started thinking why we put ourselves through this everytime we visit a buffet. What I discovered was, that most of the times, all of us overeat at buffets, because of the psychology behind buffets. We have a mindset which causes us to over eat and then complain about it after that. OK… I am not going to tell you to just eat the salads and stay away from dessert and drink plain water. When you go to a buffet, you want to enjoy, but what I am saying is, is to enjoy sparingly so you don’t feel sick and guilty after the buffet. Also, the point of these tips is to make you feel satisifed with your buffet experience and not to undereat (feel like you wasted it) or overeat (feel like vomiting).

The basic psychology about a buffets is, we want to try everything that is displayed out there. That is what is running through our minds when we walk in. The problem is, most of us load our plates with a few dishes in the beginning, and then when we are full and have no space for the other items on the spread, we shove it down our throat anyway. And that’s where everything goes wrong. So if you walk through the rice and curry section, we fill our plates like we would at a Nasi Campur shop… meaning one full meal. By the time you are done with that, you are probably too full to try the other main dishes and of course… the desserts. But hey, since it’s a buffet, let’s force it in… and most of us end up eating twice as much as we normally would for a normal meal.

How to overcome this.

Tip #1
Take a quick walk and examine what is available on the spread first. As you walk, start ranking the foods
1 = I absolutely must have that or I’ll die
2= Oooh…I haven’t had this in awhile
3= That’s good, but I can have this any time I want outside.

I hope not everything on the spread gets ranked as 1. Most people just start from the entrance and fill their plates to brim. Then discover something they really want to try, and although they are full, they force it in anyway.

Tip #2
Next, now that you have identified the foods that you must have (ranked 1), start taking those foods first. I highly recommend that you take small portions of it… no matter how badly you want it. And I mean really small portions, usually just a mouthful for each type of food. The idea is, you just want to try it… not get full on one particular dish. The idea of a buffet is to provide you with a variety of food… not just to get full on 2 or 3 dishes.

If there is still space after I have tried all the food ranked 1, I move on to food ranked 2. I usually stay away from food ranked 3, because I can eat it anywhere I want. Example of this would be Nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng, Roti Canai etc. You can visit any mamak you want and get it, so save the space for the expensive and rarte stuff which you won’t get to eat all the time.

Tip # 3
Eat till you are about 80% full and stop eating the main dishes. The other 20% is to be saved for dessert. If you are not a dessert person, then go all the way. I love dessert, so I make it a point to save some of my hunger for it. Most people eat till they’re overflowing or full and then stuff in more dessert. Bad idea. You should feel a tad bit more hungry when you approach the dessert.

Tip # 4
When you feel full, stop eating. I know it’s a buffet and you need to eat everything, but if you followed Tip # 1 to Tip #3 above, you will be very satisfied with everything that you have tried, which makes it that much easier to stop when you are full. So you don’t have to overeat… contrary to what most people do at buffets.

So… the next time you are at a buffet, try these tips and see. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not about starving yourself at the buffet, but to ensure you enjoy and eat just right. Most of us eat buffets only once in a while, so what’s wrong with enjoying something sinful every once in awhile. The idea is to keep in line and reduce, keep you satisfied and reduce the damage on your waistline.

As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.


anfield devotee said...

Am actually quite controlled at makan buffets. Will pick out what me likes & save some space fer the mosts eye-catching dessert.

However, the same canna be said bout beer buffets ...

The Corporate Athlete said...

I eat like a king at buffets, and 3 hrs after, I scoured everything out. Somehow, it's really hard for my body to contain all the food for a long period. I guess being a high-metabolical person pays off huh! :).

Rajan said...

AD: Wow... that is impressive. Yes, Beer Buffet is a whole other story.... though nowadays, i don't think i will do too well with Beer Buffet's though

CA: Mmm.... good defense system. for me, what goes in stays with me... so that's why i got to be careful.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

i'm blaming it on that notion that buffets simply means all-you-can-eat. since average people enjoys buffet occasionally, they tend to wallop to make sure the amount of food they've stuffed in worth every penny. but as usual, your tips are practical, esp on the one ranked 3. may go for only the ones you dont normally get outside.

Rajan said...

Kerp: Hehehehehe... i know what you mean. This is why i never pay for Buffet anymore. i know how i can be. I only go when its free... so eat a lot or little also, got no difference.

Glad the tips help.

Anba said...

Bro really agree with you goo tips...
so far from all the buffets i've been i do somewhat similr thing... juat take like a small portion...
and layer it...
once i get on to the dessert...
and finish it i just feel great not full and stuffed like a pandi...hehehehe

Rajan said...

anba: yes bro.. that's the idea. unfortunately, it took me a long time to realize this... then i discovered why i over eat... coz the psychology of wanting to eat everything.

glad you liked the tips

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