You might think to yourself, "If I don't eat before I go to the buffet, I'll be able to eat to full capacity when I get there". Unfortunately that's not how it works and it's likely your stomach is planning on killing you after you skip a meal and then go to an all-you-can-eat buffet, filling plate after plate for an hour or two.
I often hear going to a buffet on an empty stomach is a bad idea and I've always wondered why. As students, getting the most out of our dollar is an important thing, so I did the research for all of us and put together some helpful tips you can follow pre, during and post buffet to maintain your health while really eating all you can eat.
You might think skipping a meal before you head to the buffet will give you more room to fill up once you get there, but actually, the size of your stomach will shrink, making you want to eat less. Of course you may keep stuffing yourself when you know you can eat more, but you'll eventually feel sick.
That being said, don't fill up on the wrong things or the most you'll feel like eating is one plate and let's face it, that just can't happen.
What to eat before you go: Eating easy to digest foods like yogurt, apples, and cereal 2-3 hours before will help your stomach expand and you'll be hungry again by the time you get to the buffet. If you're willing to go the extra mile, drinking a glass of lime juice before will also help you with digestion and prepare your body for the food pyramid you're about to eat.
What not to eat before you go: It might seem obvious, but just in case you feel tempted to finish a leftover bag of sour candies before you go, avoid carbonated drinks and sugary foods, as these will fill your stomach and ultimately kill your appetite by making you want to eat even more sweets.
During the Buffet
Before you start piling your plate with all of the foods you know and love, check out your options so you don't end up full on the first thing you see.
What not to eat: As appetizing as that fried rice looks, you're easily going to get full after eating it. The same rules apply to fillers like potatoes, pasta, bread... and pretty much anything that has starch or loads of gluten in it.
What to eat: If you really want to get the most bang for your buck, start with the expensive foods (think of what you don't like paying for at the grocery store) like seafood and high-protein foods. That being said, don't fill up with too much of one thing and pace yourself as you still need to go for more rounds and dessert.
If you really need to focus on maintaining your health, try following the 50-25-25 rule. Fill your plate with 50% vegetables, 25% proteins and 25% whatever else you want.
What to drink: I said it once and I'll say it again, avoid the carbonated drinks! Stick with water, hot tea, and if you must, iced tea. These won't fill you up and they'll help you better digest food (plus tea cuts the grease!).
At this point, you might feel ready to go into hibernation for a couple of months. So, to make your life easier, don't change any of your eating and exercise habits and keep the following in mind:
DO: Go for a walk or engage in light exercise and drink water or tea to speed up digestion.
DON'T: Lie down or drink any coffee or alcohol right after an all-you-can-eat as this can cause heartburn and slow digestion. Doing heavy exercises or going for a jog might also make you want to run to the bathroom instead as it increases the likelihood of you wanting to barf.
Now that you know the do's and dont's of buffets, you'll be able to stuff your face to the max. Share some of these tips with friends and the next time you go out, you might even have people saying "How is that table eating so much?" Now go on and reward yourself for learning some knew knowledge today and head over to that buffet, but don't forget to eat first!