Venturing into the Buffet (a.k.a. the “Dining Hall”)

I was planning to take lots of pictures. I swear. I had my camera and everything. I would like to say that my battery died after the first one or the manager came and threatened to beat me with a stick (wouldn’t that be dramatic?), but, honestly, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I know I’m a journalist and I’m supposed to be providing the public with easy access to the truth in its most comprehensible form and all, but standing in the middle of a PACKED college dining hall and taking pictures? Next time, I swear.

Cherry Pecan Salad, no dressing (with a veggie dog) and a side of Hummus with Pita

Cherry Pecan Salad, no dressing (with a veggie dog) and a side of Hummus with Pita

I did get one of MY tray, which I felt was fairly balanced (I’ll post it when I’m NOT in class). The big thing to remember with dining halls and any buffet is to decide what you want and get it. In America, the typical style of eating is “clean your plate”. If you do subconsciously feel that your plate must be sparkling white (or whatever color) when you’re done, don’t focus on changing this idea. I find that changing ingrained ideas is much harder than learning to work around them so, if you can change it, that’s wonderful, but if you can’t, find a way to get around it.

For example, I’m going to eat everything I get at a buffet. I could spend hours and hours that I don’t have obsessing about how to change this idea but all that obsession would probably lead to a binge anyway.

Instead, GET LESS. If you’re in a buffet situation, skip the old standbys and try stuff that looks really good. If you don’t like it after ONE bite, put the plate on the side of the table and mess it up (pour water in it, clean up something nasty with a napkin and put it on top, combine the parts that shouldn’t go together, etc) so you won’t go back to it later. Then, go back (with a new plate) and get something else.

If you prefer the sampling numerous items method, get smaller portions. In the dining hall, ask for half a cup of something or half a scoop of rice with sauce. It’s probably going to be easier to do this if you go when they’re not too busy so try to arrange your dinner time (if not lunch) a little bit later than “the rush”. If you’re at a self-serve buffet/stations, just take smaller portions. How to know how much to take? Everything should fit on a plate, preferably a smaller one.

Just my two cents.

Coming soon:
A visit to the nutritionist
Microwave idlis in 5 minutes (3 ingredients)

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