For most college students, “buffet” is synonymous with “heaven.”
You pay one flat rate, and then get to peruse rows and rows of food that’s been left out just slightly too long, eating until you can’t possibly eat anymore, and then proving yourself wrong by going back for dessert.
The beauty of the all-you-can-eat.
The problem is, it’s easy to over do it when seconds are free, and unless the dessert table has all-you-can-drink Pepto Bismol, you’re body is going to hate you.
But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid these college student utopias all together. There are ways to eat at a buffet and still be able to leave in the same size jeans you wore in.
According to Chris Bauchman, a dietician at Hartshorn Health Center, buffets can be a great way to eat from all the food groups by getting a variety of foods — which is key to getting all the nutrients you need.
But this doesn’t mean take a plate full of each thing they offer.
Whitney Smith, also a dietician at Hartshorn Health Center, recommends using what they call “the plate method.”
This includes going through the line without a plate first, eyeballing everything they offer and then deciding what you’re going to get, rather then piling up a plate as you go.
You should ideally aim to cover half your plate with fruits and veggies, a fourth with grain and a fourth with protein.
That way, all your food-group bases get covered before you hit the ice cream machine.
Smith said you don’t have to completely avoid any foods, as long as you’re eating in moderation. She also suggests not “settling” for foods that only taste okay. When you’re at a buffet, you’ve got the opportunity to eat what you really want, so don’t feel like you’ve got to force down something you don’t.
Another trick Smith recommends when hitting the line is not to load up your plate on the first round, but keeping in mind you can always get seconds.
The idea is if you put a pile of food in front of you big enough for the whole football team, you’re more likely to over-eat. If you make it a regular thing you’ll soon find your freshman 15 will become your sophomore 60. Ouch.
A study sited by the Wall Street Journal found that cafeterias and dorms that didn’t provide trays not only limited their food waste, but also the expanding waists on their patrons.
It makes sense. If it’s hard to carry your food on one plate, think how much worse it will be carrying it around your midriff for the rest of the day.
Not to mention how it’ll look it during your west-lawn tanning session.
Eating slowly and taking the time to really enjoy your food is also key. It takes the body 20 minutes to register as being full, so if you’re pounding a burger in 10 you may eat another before you even know how stuffed you are. Better hope there’s a close bathroom.
Corbett Hall isn’t the only place where the beauty of a buffet is made reality. Fort Collins is home to several all-you-can-eateries, from just about any food, cost and quality range.
Smith recommends Whole Foods salad and hot food buffet, priced per pound at $7.99. If pizza is your passion, try Cici’s Italian buffet. But if you don’t have good self-control, do yourself a favor and wear something with an elastic waistband.
If you live life on the edge, try the Chinese No. 1 Super buffet. You may not know what kind of meat it is, but covered in that sweet sauce, it doesn’t really matter anyways.
Regardless of where you go, buffets can be the places where dreams come true. But listen to your body, or it could easily become your nightmare.
Entertainment editor Maggie Canty can be reached at email@example.com.