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At a party this summer, I ended up engaging in a hazard of my profession, observing people eat. There were a variety of party-goers at the event—mixed gender, from all classes and walks of life. An interesting crowd but, sadly, not a mindful eating one.
My table was close by the buffet, so I was able to watch the party-goers shuttling back and forth seeking food. I was struck by the size of the portions taken. Plates were medium-sized and most folks heaped them so high and full that all I could see was food, no plate. There was variety on each one, a bit of everything—or, rather, more than a bit.
Nearly all those at my table cleaned their plates when the food was only so-so--a self- confessed non- foodie, I know a tasty dish from a ho-hum one and most of these were passable at best. There were lots of carbs and tasteless casseroles and not much protein. At meal’s end, I was surprised to see just one bowl of food left on the buffet table. Gone were the potato and pasta dishes, scraped clean was the cheese soufflé. What remained? At least half the salad in a not-huge-to-begin-with bowl. Dessert was a large supermarket cake with white icing and pink flowers. We all know what these cakes taste like. I’m not putting them down, only saying that they’re predictably unexceptional. But before the hostess got out the words “Help yourselves to cake,” the line had formed.
My point in making these observations is to encourage you to take a look at your own eating at buffets, a subject I’ve blogged on before. Do you see yourself in my descriptions? Try to respond without judgment. Do you arrive at a buffet or party and immediately think quantity not quality? Do you check your good sense at the door and dive in? Do you focus on food rather than people? Do you feel compelled to sample everything, go back for seconds or thirds, and clean your plate?
Here’s a reminder of how to eat at a party or buffet. First, check out all the food and choose only your favorites. Take a small portion of each to see if it’s as good as you’d hoped. Eat mindfully and rest between bites to let food digest. Don’t immediately rush back for seconds. Consider everything you intend to eat and make careful choices. Do you really want it or are you eating it because it’s there or because everyone else is? If you were in a restaurant, would you order these foods? How will they feel in your body after you’ve eaten, later on, tomorrow? Eat tactically and strategically--and above all, mindfully--and think quality and enjoyment, not quantity and what’s still left uneaten on the buffet table. Don’t follow the herd. Instead, follow your appetite.
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