Yes! You can eat at a buffet on the 21DSD

Hey Folks! We're excited to welcome Certified 21DSD Coach Kristi Goode. Kristi's article is part of a series contributed by our Certified 21DSD Coaches. Enjoy! – Diane and Team

It is possible that you may be faced with a buffet style lunch or dinner while on the 21DSD. Be it a work meeting or work travel, it is a highly possible encounter.  Most would find this very difficult to navigate while on the detox based upon habits, and buffet options that are not compliant. Plus, if you see it, it may trigger sugar and refined carb cravings.  But no worries! I’ve got you covered with some navigation tips and tricks for eating buffet style on the 21DSD. We’re going to focus upon these three words: prepare, plan, and portion-size.

First and foremost you need to prepare. Take a deep breath and try to get into a more relaxed state of mind. This could be a stressful situation based upon all of the options. Before even heading to the buffet you need to be in rest and digest mode, plus thinking mindfully about this experience.  During this time, you need to think about your goals and your “why”. “Why am I doing this detox?” and “Why is it important to me?” Remember, when you change your habits your changing your life and being prepared is key. I promise, if you’re being mindful, you will be able to navigate this buffet!

Second, plan. Let’s make a plan. Do not get a plate until you’ve scoured the entire buffet. This will help you resist the urge to start “plopping” the first thing you see onto your plate. Look for proteins first. Most buffets will have a carving station with one or two cuts of meat, usually ham, pork tenderloin, or beef. There may also be a grill for fresh chicken, steak, or a burger patty. Sometimes fajitas are an option. You want to avoid proteins in sauces or gravies, and look out for breaded items. These could have hidden sugars, oils, soy, or gluten. Remember 4-6 ounces of protein keeps you satiated and you generally don’t overeat protein. 

Next, look for non-starchy steamed vegetables that you can add your own healthy fat to, such as a pat of butter. Pre-seasoned vegetables are ok, but should not be your first choice unless you know they were specifically prepared with butter or another healthy fat. And sometimes the vegetable sides are doused in a cream sauce that may have hidden ingredients. A salad bar can be a great option in addition to or in place of the non-starchy vegetable. Just avoid the dressings and opt for the vinegar. Or maybe you can eat your greens plain. Another great option is broth – based soups that include a protein and vegetables. Make sure to avoid those with noodles. Last, let’s look for those nutrient dense starchy vegetables. Roasted sweet or white potatoes, baked potatoes, mashed (for level 1 and 2), and whole grains such as a ½ cup of steamed rice (for level 1). Fried rice is not a good option.  Now that we’ve thought of how to build our plate, let’s look at my third tip.

Third is portion size.  It’s very easy to overeat at a buffet. This is usually the biggest fear when it comes to eating out. All of that food makes it difficult to think about portion size. With protein you want approximately 4-6 ounces (about the size of your palm). Depending on the depth of the spoon, 1-2 spoonfuls of vegetables. One scoop of mashed potatoes or rice to equal about a ½ cup is optimal. A small baked potato or a spoonful of roasted potatoes should be sufficient. Soup and salad bowls are generally small. Lastly, don’t overfill your plate.

It takes about 20 minutes to realize if you’re full. Hence the rest and digest mode during the first step of preparing. Chew your food well and eat slowly, making sure to get in all of your protein. If you finish all of your food and after 20 minutes you are still hungry, get another small slice 1-2 ounces of protein. Especially if your cohorts are eating dessert. This may deter your cravings. Keep in mind the slower you eat, the more times your dining companions have visited the buffet. Don’t be tempted for seconds unless you still feel hungry. Remember, you’re trying to make healthy life-style changes and form new habits. Self-control at a buffet can be scary but I know you can do it! You will be so confident at the end of the night knowing that you successfully navigated a buffet!

21- Day Sugar Detox Coach Kristi Goode holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but has been inactive since 2006 while raising her two boys.  During that time, Kristi’s passion for good food, cooking, and better health flourished. After reading multiple books and articles regarding the effects of food our bodies, and many trial and errors of her own, she found what works for her. Joint pain and all over tightness were two areas that she could not tackle along with unstable blood sugar. The 21DSD provided a stable eating platform and busted her “hangry” versus “hungry” feelings. Our bodies crave nutrient dense foods that nourish our systems and help us feel our best. Through education you can create nutrient dense meals to reach your personal health goals. You can find more of her recipes on her blog at

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