All you can eat buffets – Can we handle them sensibly?

Indian Buffet
Last weekend I attended a wedding in the family at Chicago. As is so typical with Indian weddings, we had a lot of colorful clothes, music, dancing, the usual bonhomie and then the most important thing – FOOD. Yes the success of an Indian marriages is gauged by the quality of the food, the variety of the spread and the multiple cuisines they cater to.

As a food lover, my taste buds started watering but the nutritionist inside got the better of me. I began wondering that if I can be caught in this greed of savoring it all in an all-you-can-eat spread, what would others be doing? Succumbing to the aromas that waft out from the serving tables? This led me to writing this post on what one can do to avoid falling prey to this temptation.

Indian food is balanced because it uses a wide variety of vegetables, legumes and grains. It is plant based and heart healthy. Indian cooking also calls for a lot of spices like turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and cloves which are anti-inflammatory, increase your metabolism and help detoxify. Whole grain lentils are also loaded with fiber. The pure ghee (clarified butter) used in limits has great anti lipolytic factors and provides essential fatty acids for production of hormones.

But this same Indian food, mind you can be UNHEALTHY if YOU do not make the RIGHT CHOICES. Food cooked at catering events and restaurants in bulk use a lot of Monosodium glutamate (MSG), cream and hydrogenated (Vanaspati) oils. There are also a lot of fried appetizers at cocktail hours with unlimited alcoholic beverages. And of course the not to be missed dessert section loaded with tasty, sugary sweets. Over indulgence at such all you can eat meals has a negative impact on health.

  1. Begin with a small plate of appetizers and take 1 of each and do not go for seconds.
  2. If you have to drink, take a glass of wine 1/2 filled and enjoy it throughout the evening.
  3. Circle the buffet spread and decide what you want to eat. Look at alternatives before you decide to dive in.
  4. Use a smaller plate.
  5. Fill your plate with vegetables and salads (but avoid the dressings) and a little bit of everything else.
  6. Take very little of the white rice and naan. Remember they will spike your blood sugar.
  7. Sit far away from the buffet area to ensure you need to walk to get a refill and that gives you time to introspect.
  8. Chew you food longer. Eat slowly so as to prevent overindulgence and enjoy the food.
  9. During dessert time take small bites of 2-3 kinds and enjoy the moment.

Don’t live by the motto “LIVE TO EAT”. I would rather you live by “EAT TO LIVE”. You want to enjoy the moment and not feel guilty so plan ahead in your mind and be disciplined as “HEALTH IS WEALTH”.