How to Navigate Buffets

Our members dish on their strategies to stay on plan when faced with an endless buffet.
Published July 3, 2017

Summer – and the many social events it brings – can often mean an endless parade of pot-lucks, picnics, and buffets. While you may be tempted to load up your plate – it’s not the most plan friendly approach. Here our members share their tips and tricks to still enjoy buffets, without getting off track.

passionate.meeks on Instagram

My general strategy with buffets, before you pick up a plate, is to take at least two looks at everything. Walk around the buffet at least twice so you can take a peek. Look at the things and treats that are worth it, in your mind to be able to indulge in, but also to be able to recognize the lower point food that will fill you up. And then you can enjoy the higher point foods as well.

With buffets, the larger plates are generally put out first, but I grab a dessert plate, which is a little bit smaller, to put higher point foods on. Then I use the bigger plate for 0 SmartPoints salad, with dressing on the side.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask if you want something prepared a little bit differently (without sauce, for example).

shanna82 on Connect

Pre-track as much as possible.  Don’t go to the buffet or family event super hungry – eat a light meal beforehand and make sure you are well hydrated. Take a good look at the entire selection of food before you choose anything.  Decide what items are most worth it to you.  For me the most “worth it” item is my parents’ homemade fruitcake – I will choose to spend points on that over any other dessert at a family gathering. What item of food is the most special, the most unique?  Prioritize that over the other delicacies and make room for it in your points budget. 

I like to try different foods, so I will take very small portions of a couple different things that I have never tried before that might be a little points heavy.  And then I will also fill up on things I know are points friendly like lean protein, fruit, and vegetables.

If you put something on your plate that you end up not really liking – don’t finish it! You do not have to eat it just because it is on your plate.

leighanna_ww on Instagram
leighannad on Connect

When I first arrive, I look at what was available. I always start buffets with a plate full of veggies that I know will help fill me up. After that, I go for a lean protein and stay away from the carbs.

emma_weightwatchers on Instagram

[One] thing for me is not just staying at the table. I get up, I walk around, I talk to people, so I’m not as tempted to eat just sitting at the table. Typically that’s what I would have done back in the day. It’s really just about having a plan.

byebyefatpants on Instagram
criztawl on Connect

It’s different for me because I’m vegan. So before I [go to a buffet], I make sure to eat, and I grab a drink from Starbucks because of the soy milk option, and it’ll also keep me full longer and I keep snacks in my purse. Generally most places will have fruits and vegetables, so I just load up on that. For me, it’s all about making a plan.


Guesstimate the SmartPoints value

passionate.meeks on Instagram

Past experience with foods you’re used to is going to be able to give you some insight in terms of how many points things are. If I don’t know, I would use the Weight Watchers app. Sometimes too, what I do is get what I think is a reasonable portion, take a picture of it, and be able to hold myself accountable later when I ‘point’ it out.

Other than that, the hand tricks work too. For example, a big fist is a cup full of food. I also find keeping portions small and using a smaller plate helps to be able to curb that!