No one loves a buffet more than I do, but buffet items that won’t ruin your diet aren’t always plentiful. While I’d be perfectly happy chowing down on nachos, hot wings and potato skins for dinner, I know that’s not healthy and I’ll just feel yucky later. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, but if you eat from buffets often, it pays to know which choices are better for your health. Check out these buffet items that won’t ruin your diet and eat them in moderate portions so you can fill up without filling out.
Most buffets have a salad bar, whether it spans half the restaurant or takes up just a small space. Salad is one of the top buffet items that won’t ruin your diet, provided you make healthy choices. Start with leafy greens and pile on as many raw vegetables as you want. Stay away from fatty cheese, cold cuts and dressing. Go for the low-fat dressing or drizzle your salad with lemon juice. Start with a salad and it’ll take the edge off your hunger so you aren’t so tempted by all the diet bombs on the rest of the buffet line.
2 Grilled Meat
Most buffets have a wide selection of meats. Your best bet is to stay away from the ones smothered in gravy and anything that’s fried. Instead, choose a small grilled chicken breast, filet of fish or sirloin steak. Ask that your choice isn’t smothered in butter and season it simply at the table with salt and pepper.
Soup is another great appetizer because you can often find choices that are pretty healthy and they can keep you from getting so hungry that you go nuts when you get to the buffet line. Avoid creamy soups, but opt for broth-based choices. They are ideal because they’re often low in fat and calories. Look at the broth – if you see tons of oil floating on it, choose something else. In general, bean and vegetable soups are good choices.
4 Steamed Veggies
Because steamed veggies are easy to prepare and inexpensive, you’ll find them on many buffet lines. Fill half your plate with a heap of steamed broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or green beans and you won’t have so much room on your plate for the fatty stuff. Pair your veggies with grilled chicken or fish and you’ll have a satisfying, but delicious meal you can feel good about eating.
5 Baked Potato
I don’t know about you, but a baked potato is one of my favorites. You should stay away from butter and sour cream as toppings since they are loaded with fat and calories, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other toppings. Many buffets have a baked potato bar, so go ahead and fill your spud with a bit of low-fat cheese and salsa or pile on beans, green onions and a dab of low-fat cheese. You’ll be full in no time without ruining your health goals.
6 Pasta with Tomato Sauce
No, filling up on pasta isn’t a good idea. It does contain calories and it’s so easy to go overboard. However, you can enjoy it without wrecking your healthy meal plan. Have just one scoop and top it with tomato or vegetable sauce. You want to stay away from cheesy, white sauces, which are diet bombs.
If you simply can’t find any entrees that fit the bill, consider eating a couple of small appetizers. Shrimp cocktail, chicken skewers, fruit salad and crudités are items you might be able to find. They load you up on nutrients, but won’t overload you on fat and calories.
I love all you can eat buffets. When else can I eat everything I love at one meal? How do you stay healthy when you have so many choices in front of you?