Eating Out at a Buffet While Watching Your Cholesterol

buffetgabrieldomea.jpg
gabrieldome, istockphoto

Who doesn’t love a good buffet? At some restaurants, a buffet allows you to pick and choose the food items you want to consume. While this can be good for those of us that are a little choosy about the food items we eat, this can also be the source of added calories and fat – especially if extra trips are made to the buffet. This can also sabotage your cholesterol-lowering diet. This article will show you how to keep it healthy in the buffet line – and still enjoy your favorite foods – while watching your cholesterol.

Go to the Salad Station First

The salad bar is abundant with delicious veggies that contain nutrients such as phytosterols and fiber to help keep your cholesterol levels healthy. Additionally, it can also be filling, preventing you from stuffing yourself with unhealthy foods that are situated in other areas of the buffet. However, there are some pitfalls to avoid when visiting this station, since there are certain foods in this area that can add calories to your plate:

  • Limit your cheeses. Some cheeses are higher than fat that others, so you shouldn’t pile them on your salad. Some cheeses – such as parmesan and cottage cheese – are lower in fat compared to cheddar or Swiss cheese. If available, use a low-fat version of your favorite cheese (they will usually be labeled in the bar).
  • Watch your salad dressing. Creamy salad dressings are traditionally higher in saturated fat compared to oil-based dressings. If possible, select dressings at the bar that are labeled low in fat. Alternatively, you can place your dressing in a separate dish, rather than drenching your salad with it.
  • Healthy toppings. In addition to your lettuce, dressing, and other veggies, you have a myriad of other toppings to select from at the salad bar. Foods such as fruit, beans, nuts, and herbs are alternatives that are low in saturated fat. You should limit toppings such as bacon and croutons, which have a tendency to be higher in fat.

    Visiting the Meat Station

    The meat station is also a favorite among diners. Unfortunately, this station, too, can be a source of added fat and calories to your cholesterol-lowering diet. However, there are ways that you can visit this station without completely wrecking your diet:

    • Select leaner meats. Red meat isn’t the only type of protein out there. Some cuts of poultry, such as chicken or turkey, are lower in fat in comparison to other cuts of meat.
    • Select fish. Fish, another low-fat alternative to meat, is chock-full of protein without the high fat content.
    • Cuts of red meat. If you must select red meat, make sure that you choose cuts that are free of fat. You can also cut the fat away from selected meats before consuming them.
    • Other alternatives. There are other ways to sneak in protein without relying on fatty cuts of red meat. Soy products, beans, and lean cuts of other game are just a few ways you can increase the protein that you consume – without the added fat.

    A Word about Sides

    A buffet offers even more options for you as you select your side dishes.

    If you’re watching your food intake, this can work to your advantage since you will have more selections. However, this can also open the road to selecting more unhealthy foods to consume. When selecting your sides, make sure that you select foods that are low in refined sugars and saturated fat. To do this, avoid foods sweetened with sugar or syrup or foods containing butter or cream-based sauces.

    Dessert Station?

    Of course, you can have dessert – even on a cholesterol-lowering diet. However, you shouldn’t go overboard on sweets. If you are watching for calorie intake, put the fresh fruits on your plate first. You can also select a small frozen yogurt or a low-fat fruit sorbet to satisfy your sweet tooth without increasing your fat intake. Cakes, pies, and cookies should be limited – if not avoided altogether – since these foods could heap on calories and fat to your diet.

    Continue Reading