I spent Christmas on a fantastic vacation in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. My whole family met up there, and we stayed at an all-inclusive resort. And, like many all-inclusive resorts, this one had a lot of buffets.
I haven’t eaten at many buffets since I started losing weight, and the thought of all the buffets was a bit daunting. After all, they make it so easy to make poor choices and overeat.
But I made it through the week with ease, and that’s partly because I gave myself some rules to follow. Here are four tips to remember the next time you’re at a buffet.
- Case the joint. Do your reconnaissance. Before you even pick up your plate, check out all the offerings, and see what appeals to you, and what doesn’t. That way you can make smart choices, and develop a strategy for the meal.
- Start with Healthy. There were plenty of rich, creamy, cheesy, fatty, indulgent dishes I wanted to try, but I always started with a plate of healthy stuff. The salad bar. Sauteed or steamed veggies. Lean proteins (that weren’t stuffed with bread crumbs, covered in cheese, or deep fried). Start your meal with stuff you won’t regret, and leave less space in your stomach for the stuff you would!
- Stick with small portions. If there was something I wanted to try, I tried it. But only a little bit. It’s so easy to help yourself to monster-sized portions, since you’re the one in charge of the serving spoon, but show some restraint. If it’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten, you can always go back and get a little more.
- Listen to the other people in your party. There were lots of dishes that I wanted to try, but while I was eating my healthy plate (see tip #2), I asked about what my other family members were eating, and listened to their answers. I learned lots that influenced my choices for my next plate: skip the chicken and the pasta, but definitely try the soup.
My general strategy for the week was to stay as low-carb as possible, and, actually, the buffets made that pretty easy. I just walked past the bread station, and even though they were making fresh tortillas for tacos on the spot, I skipped those too. In fact, I only ate about eight tortilla chips during the entire week, mostly as a vessel for some healthy guacamole. There was paella one night, and I really wanted to try it, so I limited myself to less than a cup’s worth.
There was one twenty-four hour period that served as an exception to my low-carb plan – the day that I got really sick. I ate something that didn’t agree with me, and I started feeling nauseous while scuba diving, 35 feet below the surface, as I passed a school of fish along a reef. I made it through the dive (which, feeling ill aside, was really great), but as soon as the dive was over, I barfed off the side of the boat. We returned to the beach, and a half hour later, I barfed again. I barfed a third time, a half hour after that. Then the diarrhea started. I pretty much expelled every foreign molecule out of my system, one way or another. Good times.
I slept the rest of the afternoon, and felt much better. But I decided to play it safe, and stick to cooked, non-greasy, non-acidic foods for a day, and ate bread and rice. I resumed my low-carb plan soon thereafter, and was fine the rest of the trip.
It was a really relaxing, lovely vacation. I tried out a fish spa treatment, where little fish called garra rufa nibble at your feet. They remove dead skin cells and supposedly provide a micro massage that improves circulation, but I don’t know if I believe that.
It did feel good, though, like my feet were getting tickled by dozens of tiny feathers for 20 minutes, and I’ve spent 10 bucks on a lot worse things.
I also had a hammock on the porch outside my room, and I loved hanging out in that (literally) and reading.
I also exercised. Every day. The resort had a small fitness center, and by the time we left, I had used every single piece of equipment in it.
I used the gym when it was too hot or humid to exercise outside – which was most parts of most days – but I got some outdoor activity in as well. Part of one day’s workout was a nearly-two-mile walk with my sister, sister-in-law, and niece. And I went in an early morning run one day, covering 3.9 miles, all the way to and from the little airport in town.
And, on my last full day in Mexico, I went open water swimming in the Caribbean. I swam back and forth between two buoys, which I later estimated, using Google Maps, to be about 1,000 feet apart. My sister joined me for part of it. All in all, I swam about 1.5 miles.
Keep it up, David!
I’m leaving out one big story from my trip, about one of the adventures I had, because it was a life highlight and deserves a post all its own. I’ll share it in my next post!
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