Break the buffet spell


So you have been working hard on eating healthily - taking in lots of fruit and veg, doling out sensible portion sizes and going easy on the calorie bombs.

Then you find yourself facing a buffet - it might be a party, a visit to a restaurant or your canteen at work. With plenty of tempting food there for the taking, what do you do?

Researchers at Cornell University have looked closely at how people behave around a buffet. In a 2008 study they observed diners at Chinese buffets and found that patrons with higher estimated BMI tended to use larger plates and face the buffet while eating and were less likely to browse the buffet before choosing.

In a separate, 2013 study researchers from the same group in Cornell found that 75 per cent of diners selected the first food they saw in the buffet line-up, and seeing less healthy food first tended to result in greater food intake.

“What ends up on a buffet diner’s plate is dramatically determined by the presentation order of food,” write the researchers in PLOS ONE, adding that “Health-conscious diners, can proactively start at the healthier end of the line.”