I love buffets- they are informal, you can choose what to eat, you can eat all you want and nobody is looking [ or so you think!].
But hey, what if you are on a diet and trying to cut down on eating humungous portions of food?
Now imagine being confronted by a magnificent array of Indian foods on offer at a party and the gulab jamuns look at you longingly, begging to be slurped and bitten into?
Now imagine having to look back at those wretched gulab jamuns and say ‘no’ to them! That’s right ! Can’t eat them or else all that huffing and puffing at the gym for one hour over the weekend will be ruined in one little gulp of that syrupy sugary dough ball with the come-hither looks.
If that isn’t too much to bear, imagine what happens when you sight the pakoras looking at you beseechingly and enticing you to grab a few oily gobbles.
Okay we’ve all been there and done THAT i.e cheated on our diets when faced with the daunting task of surviving the temptations of a buffet and that too an Indian one where flavours abound and drool worthy foods just let melt your resolve and break that iron will power, making you forget your diet just for that one day. Poof! There goes one week’s worth of sweating it out and calorie burning.
So , for people like us who are on perpetual diets to lose weight here is a friendly guide to eating at buffets and not breaking the diet rules.
For those looking for serious diet rules or medical advice please look away and stop reading because this is a fun read meant for those who can laugh just as well as they can chomp.
Rule 1: Okay now I know this is silly but really helps. Eat before you get there. Yes you heard right. What is the point of going to the party you say. Well, do you want to control your weight or not, I say. There is no harm filling your empty tummy with a few bites of something healthy like fruit or plain yoghurt. So why go the party with a tummy that is rumbling and grumbling? Give it something before you go there and that way you won’t lunge for the party food like you have been on some bhook-hartaal or something!
Rule 2 : Go on a reconnaissance mission. Yup,as soon as you’ve done all the hellos and hugs, grabbed the welcome drink which should hopefully not add too much to to your calorie intake, go and check out the food – not with a plate in hand but just a little casual stroll to see what is on offer.
Resist the temptation to take something off your husband’s plate and what he is already doing there when you are co-partners in this whole diet regime is another thing altogether. Never mind, ignore the hubby and go research all the dishes on display. Mentally tick the ones that are okay for you.
Forget the salad for now. What is the point of all this gorgeous food if you are going to munch on lettuce and cucumber.Unless you are desperate to diet of course- then by all means check out the salads and tick the ones that are not full of mayonnaise or cream or other forbidden goodies. Go for the sprouts and leaves.
But the other thing about salads is if you insist on having salads at the party , everyone will KNOW about your diet and that you are not eating proper food. How embarrassing is that! You don’t want the world know you are trying to eat less do you?
Mentally eliminate the curries that have an oily layer on top- nope that is not for you even if you spotted something green in it and thought is was full of iron.
Eliminate all the deep fried stuff – okay you really want that pakora because you last ate it two years ago and enough is enough. Right you shall have the pakora and eat it too.
Desserts: check out what is available and what you really crave. No, not all of them – just one or two. Okay done.
Having sussed out all the stuff you can have versus what you cannot have -hang around a little more. Chat, mingle, laugh, enjoy the company of friends, make new ones. It’s not all about the eating. At this point, you probably thank the dahi you had just before coming that is making you holding out this long.
Ask your friends what they like from the menu. If they have started off before you fret not.In fact, for all you know, the samosas are probably over so you cannot eat them even if you want to!
Rule 3 Go grab a plate. Select wisely. Try to avoid lumpy potatoes and fatty fried paneer chunks. Go for the cauliflowers and other veggies. Avoid the oily aubergines[ baingans] swimming gloriously in their oily pool. Go for dals, beans, chole and avoid anything where you cannot tell what vegetable it is. Take the chicken out of curry, the mutton out of the biryani and leave behind the curry and rice. Dont even look at the naan. If there are rotis grab them unless they are butter rotis or something similarly sinful.
It helps if you have worn a clingy , figure hugging dress because that will be a natural deterrent to eating to bursting limits. Perhaps this should be Rule4.
Rule 4 Wear a well fitting dress where overeating will ruin your shapely contour by making you bloat. Do not wear elasticated,expanding type clothes that allow you to eat all you want. Make sure you get caught if you over-indulge. Be hard on yourself. That’s right. It takes a strong person to lose weight.
Rule 5 Do no pile your plate with a food mountain. It is seriously okay to go back for second and third helpings and yes, queuing up is a pain and so is spying the pooris at every trip because they are right at the start of the buffet line. Let the poori remind you of how you looked before you started this whole diet business.
Serve yourself small portions. Even the pakora. Yes, that’s right. Got to indulge a little. Go on. Do yourself a service, give yourself a reward. A reward. Not rewards! Just one okay. Not one of each sinful type. Just one .
Is this cruelty or what? Who told you to go on this diet? What is wrong with being a little overweight? The questions follow think and fast.
What is wrong with wearing loose tent like clothes for the rest of your life, you reason.Okay fine, if you suddenly feel this way, just give up and go tear into the buffet and eat like a maniac. But remember, as soon as you’ve done that ……….after the initial euphoric high, you will be nursing a hangover from all that excess for atleast a few days. Besides imagine how traumatised you will feel when you find out the your best friend survived the day eating just the chicken tikka and raita. So, let the feeling pass- don’t allow your self to be swayed – be dignified- small portions only. There is a CCTV in the room or imagine there is one or look around and spot someone watching you. That should stop you.
I love those sit down dinners where the video cameraman along with the glaring in-your-face lightwalla suddenly attack you just as you stuff a jalebi down your gullet and catch you in action -recording every single detail for posterity in someone’s wedding video where even after years, people rewind and watch your action sequence for a laugh. They should start doing that at buffets- it will help a lot of dieters.
Rule 6 : Eat slowly. Enjoy every morsel. thank the lord for this food.Let the pakora linger a little longer in your mouth. Savour the taste. Remember you won’t be allowed this luxury for the next two years. That doesn’t mean you go and grab a quick handful from the buffet. Nope, you will be lady -like or gentlemanly if you are a man and let others enjoy the pakoras as much as you enjoy yours.Resist the urge to be a glutton.Calm down. The gulab jamun should be arriving soon. The party is not over yet. Go help yourself to more raita [ skip if it is boondi raita.], go shamelessly help yourself to the last piece of chicken tikka or fish tikka. Think our your lipstick and think how the second pakora might smudge the lipliner- that should deter you like nothing else.
Rule 7 Some finer tips. My cousin invented this method of making a gulab jamun less gulabi, sorry sugary. Just hold the jamun under cold water from a sink for a few minutes, squeezing gently as you watch the oil and sugar leach out of the jamun.Voila!a Enjoy the gulab jamun guilt free. Best done is your host’s kitchen away from prying eyes.[ Yes, yes i know this is daft, but hey it appealed to me, so I’m sharing it ] So next time instead of one maybe I can have two jamuns. One the topic of gulab jamuns, break the single jamun into pieces in your bowl and pretend each piece is one jamun. Seriously this works like nobody’s business. You can trick your brain into believing anything. The tummy is harder to trick. If your tummy is still hungry, obviously something wrong there. But go look for anything fruity on the menu. You probably overlooked it in favour of something naughty. Go help yourself to fruit from the fruit platter if any. Otherwise fruit salad will have to do and fingers crossed it doesn’t have cream in it. Take the fruit and leave behind the custard.
As for the cake, how can you refuse a birthday cake!! Leave it for the children, have a tiny bite from someone’s plate or if you must, have a slice…….take the cake and leave the icing behind.
Sorry to offend people’s sensibilities. But this is what the world has come to.
If you think there is a lot of food waste [ mostly form you not doing justice to the burgeoning food menu], take some food with you. Ask the host to pack some for you and give it to someone less fortunate than you.
It will make you feel good, stop all the food going waste and hurrah your diet is untouched.