Q: My family loves to go to the local all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner. But I am really trying to eat better and lose weight. Any tips on how to survive this massive temptation to overeat all the wrong stuff?
MARY S., KOKOMO, IN.
A: Congratulations for asking this question - and for realizing that you don't have to get overwhelmed by mountains of fried chicken and chocolate layer cake to have a good time with your family or a good meal.
Many North Americans are going all-out at all-you-can-eat buffets. But take the advice of one Buffett (Warren), applied to another buffet: "You only have to do a very few things right in your life, so long as you don't do too many things wrong."
So here are a few right things to keep the buffet experience from going all wrong.
Don't sit facing the buffet - and sit as far away from it as you can. Studies show that twice as many overweight folks face the food as normal-weight patrons, and overweight buffet patrons sit 16 feet closer to the food than normal-weight diners. Really. Sit in a booth, not at a table. It's a form of portion control - you'll be able to get fewer plates on the surface.
Always eat a plate full of vegetables before you eat anything else. Go for a salad with all the radishes, peppers, broccoli, onions, sprouts, olives and chickpeas you want. For dressing, splash on balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.
Between courses, drink a full glass of water and wait five minutes before getting more food. Then have a second course with cooked veggies, no cheese or sauce. But don't skimp on flavor; add some condiments and spices.
Now, the main course. Look for anything that's grilled or oven-roasted, without breading or sauce. If you get chicken, remove the skin before eating. And for dessert: fresh fruit and black coffee.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.