Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Buffet

A while ago, my wife, Claire, and I dropped a friend off about half-an-hour away from where we live.  We decided we'd go out for dinner.  We found a place called Mongolian Buffet. It was a weird combination of Old Country Buffet and a Mongolian Barbecue.  I started with a huge plate of salad and tried to get a lot of veggies in, but I'm sure I went over my recommended daily intake that day. 

I noticed a lot of people trying to get their money's worth.  Going up for thirds, fourths, and fifths.  Helping themselves to plenty of soft-serve ice cream and loading their plates with deep fried food.

Two years ago, I would have been one of the people piling my plate as high as I could get it.  I would have tried to race against time to eat as much as I could before my stomach could tell my brain I was full.  Then I would have tried to shove down a dessert.

This got me thinking about the nature of the buffet.  Why does a restaurant exist where we can eat as much food as we can possibly eat?  For the $15 I paid to eat at the buffet, I could have bought a pretty nice meal at a much classier restaurant and still probably have taken home some leftovers.  Why are we compelled to go to a place with unlimited food?

I think the buffet really comes from the fear inside all of us that we won't have enough food.  A number of years ago when I was in Germany, I got upset that there weren't free soda refills a McDonald's where I ate.  Why did I need more soda?  Why did it make me so uncomfortable not to have a limitless supply of carbonated sugar water? 

Here's my point.  Go to a restaurant that serves limited portions.  Limit your portions.  The next time you eat a meal, stop before you're full.  You're not going to starve to death.

Stop being afraid of being hungry.  


  1. That's a big deal for me. I'm scared of getting hungry and having no way to "feed" the need.

    For example, I am trying to get out of the habit of taking too much food to work with me. I have this idea that if I get hungry, I have no easy way to access a shop or such, and so will "suffer" til I get home, unless I take a bag full of food, which is usually more than double of what I realistically need.

    Unlearning bad habits is one of the most difficult things I have found while trying to lose weight.

  2. Ha, this is funny and appropriate. We just went out to dinner last night, I felt like having a nice night out (and was a bit too sore to go to the gym!). We went to one of my favorite places, which is vietnamese fusion, so it can be relatively healthy. We splurged and got 2 appetizers. Then for the meal, I was kinda already full! I've been getting used to eating to satisfaction, but not overfull, so I was able to stop myself and say "this is enough." Before? I would have eaten all of it, felt sick, and kept eating. But now I have plenty of leftovers for lunch today! Rice, sauteed tofu in hot chili oil, with the romain lettuce I made them give me so I had something green to eat it with!

    I've noticed I'm much more likely to eat a normal, ie, healthy/smaller sized portion now that I've been focusing on the quality and more limited quantity of food since the start of the year. Out with the buffets - the food is low quality anyway!

  3. thanks for the comments about not being afraid of hunger. this was something that was so hard for me- i would (& still do, sometimes) get anxiety if i didn't know when i would next get food (this is now tempered by preparing & hauling appropriate snacks with me when i know i'll be out). i had to learn that hunger is in fact, a very normal & healthy sensation, & experiencing some hunger before meals is TOTALLY normal. also, stopping eating BEFORE you are full & waiting a bit is so crucial, not for weight loss necessarily but for getting a more balanced relationship with food.

    kudos to you for doing so well on your journey & recognizing your accomplishments, big or small.

  4. I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate buffets for that reason. You're right...it's a decent amount of money for an endless amount of low-quality food. I avoid them as best as I can. The only buffet I'm into is the Indian food buffet, but that is because I get to try different kinds of Indian food (which I like to do...cuz...I like to try new things). Plus, you can order one entree at the Indian eatery we go to for about the same amount as the buffet costs...so...it makes sense to do the buffet (or else go broke trying so many different things...one spoonfull each). However, it's so key to try to do no more than one plate.

  5. Hmmm the buffet - now THAT is food for thought...

    Let's try to avoid them!