How to Brave the Buffet On Memorial Day: Nine Tips to Help You Not Pig Out—But Still Have Fun

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 5/19/2015, 2:21 p.m.
Memorial Day is coming and if you're like most health-conscious folks, you're torn. On one hand, you're tempted to celebrate ...
Warren Honeycutt:

"The worst time to be hungry is at a gathering loaded with junk food," Honeycutt comments. "If you've had something nutritious to eat beforehand, you won't give that fattening snack table a second (okay, maybe third) glance."

Don't go straight for the food. Yes, that buffet table looks amazing...but it's not the only thing worth your attention at this party. Make the rounds and say hello to your friends before grabbing a plate. Find the host and thank him for inviting you. Draw some sidewalk chalk art with your niece or throw a baseball with your son.

"When you're in the middle of an enjoyable interaction with someone else, you might forget all about eating for 15 minutes, or half an hour, or more!" Honeycutt says. "Nourishing your relationships with the people you love can be even more satisfying than nourishing your body."

Limit yourself to one plate—but make it one GREAT plate. Making healthy choices is not just about what you eat, but also how much you eat. (Honeycutt challenges you to research recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods. You'll probably be shocked!) Learning how to limit your portions (especially at a party where unhealthy foods are so plentiful) is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. A good first step is resolving to eat only one plate of food—but make that one plate count.

"Scope out the entire buffet line before going through it, and put only the dishes you really want to eat on your plate," Honeycutt recommends. "If you're still hungry later on, you can always make yourself something at home. When you feel lean and refreshed the next morning, rather than bloated and groggy, you'll be glad you stopped before dipping seconds or thirds."

Take your time and savor the flavor. It's a natural inclination to eat quickly when you're hungry—and that impulse is heightened when you're in a party atmosphere with other fun activities you'd like to participate in. But Honeycutt reminds that it takes around 15 to 20 minutes for the brain to realize that the stomach is full—so enjoy your meal slowly.

"Taking the time to savor your food lets you realize when you've had enough, and it also enhances the entire experience," he comments. "You'll be surprised at how much more you enjoy eating when you take it slowly."

Give the veggie tray a fair shake. As Honeycutt has mentioned, you don't have to limit yourself to carrot sticks and cucumbers, but if you do spot fruits or veggies among the cookies, chips, and finger sandwiches, put a few of these healthier options on your plate. They'll fill up space that (be honest) would otherwise be piled up with high-calorie fare.

"It's okay to partake in some of the more decadent offerings available—it is a party, after all—but do your best to find a healthy balance," he advises. "Good health is about doing the right thing most of the time."