For the past week I’ve had unlimited access to food. And I’m talking, like, really good food. My now HUSBAND and I took a cruise for our honeymoon, and if you’ve ever taken a cruise before you know that one of the best parts about it is that everything is included- including access to all the food you want 24/7. For a lot of people this probably sounds “dangerous”. I mean, how could you possibly control yourself with SIX ice cream machines on one deck and NOT eat it every hour, on the hour?! Simple. I’m going to tell you the secrets to avoiding weight gain at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
- Secret One: Satisfy your cravings.
The first day I was eyeing a ruben sandwich and fries that smelled straight amazing. Totally not the “healthiest” choice there. There was a salad bar, but that just wasn’t what I was craving. I listened to my craving, ordered the Ruben with extra ‘kraut and enjoyed my crispy fries. I ate intuitively, which means I payed attention to my fullness and satisfaction levels, and ended up leaving half of each on the plate. I walked away satisfied, not overly stuffed, and ready for some adventure. Had I opted for the salad bar I can tell you I wouldn’t have been satisfied. My mind would probably have been pre-occupied with the food I truly wanted, and honestly, I probably would have been a little cranky from not satisfying my cravings. Wins for NO one. I also found that a lot of times it just took a taste to satisfy my craving. Mostly I was just curious what all of the new foods tasted like, and just experiencing that taste was all it took.
- Secret Two: Don’t forget about nutrition.
Yes, eat what you want, but don’t let everything you know about the nutrition of food go out the window. For example, I chose oatmeal with a fresh berry compote and nuts along side hard boiled eggs for breakfast most days. I knew it was something that I enjoyed eating and would give me the fiber, protein, and fat that I needed to be satisfied. Now, I did also have buttermilk pancakes a day or two, because it sounded delish. Totally fine. But I still made sure to pair them with some fruit and eggs to keep the balance. I also made smart choices when able, such as choosing baked VS fried items, or asking for less oil in my omelette skillet. Those are two small swaps that make a huge difference! Bottom line, I know that I feel my best when I’m well nourished and not in a food coma.
- Secret Three: Stay hydrated.
This one is TOUGH and I’ll admit to not always doing the best job at it. However, our bodies can mistake thirst for hunger, so it’s important to keep that water intake up! I made it a goal to at least alternate beverages with water, be it soda, champagne, margarita, etc.
- Secret Four: Don’t treat any foods as “off-limits”.
This kind of goes along with number one. Never view any of the foods and being “off-limits”. I won’t lie, the ice cream machine was super tempting at first. I thought “Man, I better go get me some while I can!!! I don’t have that at home!” But then I realized, yes I do. I can have ice cream literally any time I want. I have ice cream in my freezer and lord knows I love a good soft-serve cone from Mickey D’s. Once I made that tiny mind shift the ice cream machine lost its pull. Kid you not, it was instantaneous.
- Secret Five: Pay attention to your hunger and satiety cues.
This one. Is. HUGE. You can follow all of the above four secrets, but if you don’t ultimately pay attention to your hunger and satiety cues, well, you’re likely to come back with a little extra luggage (and I don’t mean from shopping). I expected to overeat on the trip a few times and sure enough I did. I’m only human, guys. What made the difference was listening to my body after that. My body knew it had received extra energy from food, and as a result I noticed I wasn’t super hungry at the next meal, so I ate lighter. Listening to your hunger and satiety cues allows everything to balance out. The overeating is corrected naturally by a lighter meal, without any conscious effort, but only if we are in-tune with our bodies.
For one week straight I ate dessert daily (sometimes twice), had a glass of champagne in my hand at most hours, and never said no to any and all things involving seafood. I tried almost every sort of frozen margarita, daiquiri and cocktail. Throughout that week I didn’t gain a pound. This was without any conscious effort. I didn’t restrict food or over exercise. I simply ate intuitively.
Now, had I came back with a little extra fluff, I wouldn’t have sweated it. I know that I am worth more than what my weight is. However, it’s totally okay to rather not want to, also. The key is to not let it consume your thoughts or keep you from enjoying vacation.
Do you have any other tips when eating at a buffet or taking an all inclusive vacation? Drop them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
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