It Seemed Fun At The Time

Buffet restaurants are fabulous for the heavy person! I loved buffet restaurants when I was obese. Given the choice between my favorite Mexican restaurant, which was great, or Ryan’s buffet restaurant, I’d choose Ryan’s almost without fail. The anticipation of unlimited, uncensored food was like heaven to me. Driving to the restaurant I’d think about what I was going to have, and how much of it. “Only 2 pieces of fried chicken, because of the grease. A salad swimming in bleu cheese dressing for health. Green beans doused in fat for my daily veggie serving, and rolls, and cookies, and ice cream, and baked potatoes, and french fries.”  You might think I’m kidding, but that is really what went through my mind when I was driving to the restaurant.

Once there, John and I would stand in line with the children, waiting our turn to order. Sure enough, the cashier always said, “I guess you want the buffet today?” We’d affirm her assumption, pay for our meal and weave our way around the crowded restaurant to a good table. A good table was one that was near the buffet. That way, as I went back and forth numerous times, I didn’t have to negotiatie my big self through the restaurant. And also, perhaps no one would notice exactly how much food I was selecting.

The first trip through the buffet line was for the “healthy” portion of my meal, the fried food, fattening green beans and salad. The subsequent trips were for the “fun” part.  Rolls slathered with butter from those cute little cups, french fries “for the kids”, and dessert. Of course dessert was my favorite part of any meal, but especially at the buffet. Not only was there regular, boring food on the buffet line, but there were desserts of all kinds. Cobblers, cakes, four different kinds of cookies, and an ice cream bar. Ah, the excess. The possibilities were endless.

I’d grab a little bowl, put some vanilla ice cream in it, top it with chocolate sauce and a cookie. I’d eat that first bowl, look around to see if anyone was watching me, and go get a piece of cake and another cookie. After that was done I was usually feeling a little embarrassed, and a bit full, so I’d send John to get me some cobbler and a cookie. At this point I wasn’t feeling so well, but that didn’t stop me from clearing my dessert plate once again. To add to our overindulgence, as we left the restaurant, John, the kids and I would all take a cookie to go. But we wouldn’t let the kids eat another cookie, so we’d save them to eat for our midnight snack, crushed over ice cream.

Yes, I loved buffet restaurants, but I shouldn’t have. One thing I quickly changed when I decided to lose weight was my behavior at buffet restaurants. I didn’t stop going, but I did stop ordering the buffet. I’d buck the cashier’s suggestion and order something healthy from the large menu behind her head. Sometimes she’d even question me, “Are you sure you don’t want the buffet? It’s a better value.” I’d reassure her that I was certain in my choice, but I’d also be thinking. “Yes, it’s a better value from a monetary standpoint, but it’s not a better value for my health.”

As we visited buffet restaurants I’d find myself watching the overweight people to see what they did. Sure enough, they hopped up and down from their chairs like jack-in-the-boxes, refilling their plates over and over. “That used to be me,” I’d think to myself. At first it was a little bit hard to only eat my chicken piece with a dead pineapple on top, while the rest of my family enjoyed the abundance of food, but as my weight started coming down, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was make it go back up by eating 2500 calories for dinner.

Eventually we stopped going to buffet restaurants, and made different choices. We still went out to eat, but just not there. Looking back, I’m embarrassed by my own gluttony. There wasn’t a reason I needed to much food, I just wanted it.  I had no brakes on my food choices, and no stop signs loomed in my mind – only Go! Go! Go! Once I lost my weight I knew I’d never overindulge like that again. For one thing I’d probably get sick, and for another thing, I no longer had the desire to eat so much at one time. Food is lovely and wonderful, but not in unlimited quantities.  As you think about your food choices, I hope that you are past the buffet restaurants, and are onto making healthy selections both while eating out and at home. After all, no one needs “All You Can Eat!” 

Have any good buffet stories? Diane

37 thoughts on “It Seemed Fun At The Time

  1. Miz says:

    too much GLUTEN FILLED FOOD when I knew it didnt agree with me.
    all of it, diane, can seem like such a great idea…at the time.

    until the next morning and then ickyhangover sets in…

    your honest raw posts are a gift to so many of us.


  2. blackhuff says:

    This sound so familiar. It’s now been 5 weeks that I’m on a healthier diet with fewer calories and exercising and we went to a buffet restaurant with my parents on Friday. They went like 5/6 times to get food. I could only manage 2 servings max. It is because of how my stomach have reduced in size.
    But I do remember when I was like this. I would also have gone 5,6 or even 9 times to refill my plate and now that I think about it, it is actually really embarrasing.

  3. marsial2010 says:

    Because we sometimes receive coupons for free buffets at a particular restaurant, we have been to buffets about once a month this year. I treat it like any other meal. I fill half my plate with salad greens, choose one small piece of meat, like a roasted chicken thigh or a small piece of prime rib, generally a scoop of something asian like Kung Pao Chicken or fried rice, and one small “naughty” thing, like a crab rangoon. I don’t eat bread with it or go back for seconds. For dessert, I ask for one scoop of vanilla ice cream, and I usually put a couple of tablespoons of strawberries or other fruit on that. But let me make it clear: before I step into that buffet line, I repeatedly visualize myself filling my plate just as I described above. In other words, I mentally rehearse what I’m going to do — otherwise, I would probably do what I used to do in buffets — grossly overeat.

  4. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman says:

    My in-laws love buffets. I find it very hard to find something to eat there, end up picking just a salad and a desserts, then get made fun of for not eating anything. I think the best solution is to just skip all-buffet restaurants all together. Even if you’re conscious of trying to eat less, it’s so easy to underestimate how much you’re eating. Plus, like you said, everything’s covered in that fake butter stuff. Even the veggies aren’t worth eating.

  5. MB says:

    I never really liked buffets because all I could ever think about was the people that didn’t use the utensils or the people who would sneeze and cough all over the stuff or how many people I would see in the restroom that didn’t wash their hands and then headed straight over to the buffet line. EWWWW! The fact that the buffet was usually more expensive than the priciest thing on the menu kept me from going there too often. Of course, that didn’t keep me from picking things that looked good of my bf’s plate.

  6. Little Bee says:

    My encounters with buffets so far were only in hotels, not in restaurants. I wonder if buffet restaurants are more of a US-American thing? Anyway, I too find buffets a tax on my self-discipline. The urge to try this-and-that and that-too is strong. But if I can get over it, buffets are actually really good for me because they usually have a large selection of salads and vegetable dishes (as sides) and you don’t have to take a portion as huge as restaurant servings normally are. I am a vegetarian who tries to limit her processed carb intake and buffets allow me more choice.
    (Granted, the buffets I have encountered were largely healthy and had for example mostly raw, real fruit for dessert choices.)

  7. Sharon says:

    Buffets were never a “value” for us because my husband just doesn’t eat enough in one sitting to make it worth it. We haven’t been to a restaurant buffet in years. However, let’s not forget the “buffet” lines that happen at church potlucks, picnics, homes where the food is served by going through a line, etc. We all have to face those and for me, that’s the worst! In addition to homecooked food, they are FREE!! Buffet is defined in more ways than one!

  8. JourneyBeyondSurvival says:

    My worst buffet moments are on private family buffets. My family was massive, so nobody really noticed how much anybody else ate. It was normal to sample each of the four different desserts, have a salad that should have been dessert, and eat all of grandma’s candies she had out. We had enough sugar to last us two weeks easily. However, we did this every week without fail.

    Once I started losing weight I began to get more careful about what I ate. I remember going one day when I was almost at my goal weight and finding that I could only eat the corn, carrots and the roast beef. The salad was Jello, the mashed potatoes had cream and butter, the gravy was too many calories for the taste. The rolls were light, white and had butter melted on the top. They were meant to be slathered with more butter and jam.

    I don’t cook like that now, or want to, in spite of my old family traditions.

  9. Desert Agave says:

    I’ve never eaten at many buffets, so I haven’t had this experience. However, I did used to eat out twice in a day on weekends. A huge breakfast followed by a huge late lunch which included dessert. It makes me wince, remembering eating like that every Saturday.

  10. South Beach Steve says:

    Oh the buffet stories I could tell. I’ll just say there was one that two friends of mine and I ate ate frequently. They cringed when we walked in the door. In fact, we were relatively certain that they removed food when we came in.

    Nothing to be proud of for certain.

  11. Babbalou says:

    Years ago my husband and I read a newspaper article reviewing a new casino. The reviewer described the scene when the breakfast buffet opened – people were literally running towards the food table and someone shouted, “Go for the meat!” For 20 years that’s been a standing joke in our household, “Go for the meat!” Not a fan of the buffet!

  12. sian-girlgetstrong says:

    I live in canada and we just don’t have many buffets at all here. But when I go over the line to the US, there is a buffet, all you can eat everywhere! and with a HUGE line up to get in…..I wonder why in the us and not here?

    Love your post…I’m sure we all have some of you in for sure at catered events…just love the variety!

  13. Sagan says:

    It’s funny, actually – something I LIKE about buffets is that no one really notices how much you eat. Sometimes my family teases me for making healthy choices, but if you’re at a buffet, no one notices if you’re choosing healthier fare. If there’s a salad bar, no one has to know that you didn’t get dressing or croutons. And you can always get something you DON’T like and just leave it on your plate to avoid the teasing.

    But there’s definitely a lot of truth to it that when the food is there and available, we tend to just keep on eating.

  14. Marcelle says:

    Now this is why I work so hard on being the BEST MOTHER IN LAW as I read so many nightmare stories and I never want my daughter in law to say anything bad about me, I would cry!!!
    She is he best daughter in law anyway….I love her to bits.

    Sorry you lost your job due to cuts, very frustrating…I need to figure a way to earn money next year as I am so tired of asking and explaining to my man what and why I do what I do with HIS money…have an idea…will work on it once I can work in Germany legally.

    Great that you stayed the same. Do u know I have trained daily for 30 days flat…had no treats as doing NO TREATS September challenge and GAINED lots of weight
    Have put my scale away…honestly cant fight trying to reach that number anymore…as long as my clothing still fits and my measurements are good and I am Healthy what more could I ask for.

    You have visited my blog so are updated with my hospital visit next week….;) thank for visiting me.
    My hubby is in the UK, have asked him to bring me magazines as I need something English to read in hospital….lets hope he remembers.

  15. Amy says:

    Buffets are a health nightmare and not just for people with overweight – they are bad for all of us! If I have to go to a buffet (for family parties they are very popular here) I am very conscious about what I put on my plate and try to consider it a regular meal as far as portions and types of foods are concerned. I do agree with the comment above by Sagan where it can be an advantage if you try to eat healty or vegetarian, that at a buffet your healthy behavior gets lost in the shuffle and no one pays any attention to you. Whereas at a regular family dinner, everyone is scrutinizing what you do and do not eat and giving lots of commentary on it. At a buffet they are too busy stuffing themselves to notice that you are being careful or restrained or not eating meat!

  16. Emergefit says:

    I once had a chance to dine with legendary coach and announcer John Madden. It was a buffet at a Marriott hotel in Denver — this was around 1978 or 1979. He went back from roast beef NINE times. I was astonished, not to mention everything else he ate.

    From that moment on I never went to another buffet because the concept sickened me — up until I was laid up and began to gain wait. Then, the buffet became central in my life — just for the value of it. Gladly, it was a relatively short period in my life.

    Imagine where we would be if buffets offered unlimited alcohol too…? Oh wait, I believe we have them, and refer to them as casino which, …is where all the “best” buffets are now.

  17. Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42 says:

    Your story sounded like my behavior at the buffets. I avoid them now. I also avoid potlucks, church functions, big parties, etc. I’d like to go to social things, I’m just not ready. It’s enough to deal with the grocery store.

    My husband likes buffets and I give him “the look” whenever he suggests it.

  18. Pam says:

    I always got two plates, which doesn’t seem like a lot to some, but when do you ever get two heaping platefuls at home? I can remember eating breakfasts so big that I wanted to hurl, but would always eat lunch a few hours later anyway, because it was lunchtime. I do not miss those days!

  19. Dr. J says:

    I like salad bars. Buffets usually serve very poor quality food. I’ve ordered a regular entrée at a buffet restaurant.

    Still thinking about Roy and John Madden. That must have been pre-turducken.

  20. Shannon says:

    This makes me laugh and want to cry. I have done all of this! It is insane how we think and what we will eat to get out moneys worth without even considering what we are doing to our bodies.
    Perfect post for me to read today as this coming weekend I will be faced with buffets gallore. I already had a plan in motion but you just made it that more important to stick to!

  21. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    I have not been to a buffet in many many years & last time would have been for my hubby or someone else, not me. I did not even eat when I did go as it is a waste of money for me…. and nowadays, honestly, I don’t trust the safety of the food at them…

  22. Ashley says:

    Oh wow, sounds exactly like me! I used to love those places like Ponderosa, Bonanza, Fire Mountain — places that sound disgusting to me now. It was like you pay admission just to gorge yourself, and I loved the concept. (Sick, eh?) The one I can’t quite get over is the Pizza Hut lunch buffet, though. I haven’t been in six months and don’t plan to go anytime soon, but I know I’ll stop in again eventually.

  23. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    Buffets can still be tough for me now, but for other reasons. My father dearly loves Golden Corral, so we have had to go there a few times. I don’t eat corporate meat, so it can be hard to find a good protein source that isn’t battered and fried.

    Back in the day I would do a salad plate, then the fried food plate, then 2 dessert trips. I used to love buffets.

    Now the food just tastes industrial to me, which I think is a good thing, because I tend to eat less of it.

  24. LovesCatsinCA says:

    Hi, Diane. The only buffet places I tend to go to nowadays are soup-and-salad places like Souplantation… I have noticed that what normal people eat and what really large people eat, is very different. You’ll see normal sized people with huge piles of salad–with teenaged boys, sometimes even two–and a few things of soup and maybe a piece of bread or a muffin. The heavier people will have a little salad, multiple bowls of soup, and plates PILED with muffins and bread and foccacia, and fill the soup bowls and pasta FULL…

    Overall, though, I can’t deal with most buffet restaurants. I find noise stressful. I find other people in close quarters stressful. And I’m one of those people who dislikes being touched. I will physically cringe if someone brushes up against me–I am very sensitive and although I hug people I know and like when I’m prepared, it’s hard not to have people “in my space” or worse yet, inadvertently touching me, in things like buffet lines.

  25. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I don’t go to buffets too often (I didn’t before, either), but I actually enjoy some of them as they give me an opportunity to have a literal bite or two of foods I don’t normally eat. Fortunately, the few buffet meals I’ve had in recent years have been places with better quality food, so there were ample healthier options. And cheese, which will get me in trouble quicker than dessert. 🙂

  26. Tish says:

    Oh yes, this used to be me. We stopped going to the buffet restaurant near us because I noticed that 99% of the people there (including ME of course) were obese and I figured I didn’t want to be identified as some one who ate there (obese). It took me another 10 years to decide to start doing something about my weight, and I left for the wrong reason, but I haven’t been in one for many many years.

  27. Leah says:

    …” sin is fun for a season” is what came to mind for me. I too used to love all-you-can-eat. Now I love more that I can go enjoy one plate of weight loss portions and then leave happy and content instead of feeling uncomfortable and sad.

  28. Cheryl says:

    Hubz and I used to go to a buffet on a Sunday afternoon with the plan to eat first, then linger and have conversation . . . for up to 2 or 3 hours . . . then have dinner! OMG!

    We don’t go anymore…the value for the dollar of what we’d now eat wouldn’t be as good as going somewhere and doing what we so often do now ~ split an entree.

  29. Tami says:

    I appreciate your honesty Diane. I have never liked buffets or pot luck meals.

    I have however; over indulged on food on many occasions and felt sick after doing so. Getting dessert even though I was full. A lot of times these pig outs were in advance of an upcoming diet I was going on. I wonder how much weight I gained that way!

  30. Kate says:

    Oh how I remember Ryan’s Buffet. So many memories, it’s hard to recount them, but the ones that stand out, and their reasons:
    1. Eating white bread rolls. We didn’t have white bread in our home when I was a kid, so I would feast on them when we ate out, and Ryan’s were even sweet!
    2. Eating with a sports team in highschool, trying so hard to restrict what I ate, envious, yes ENVIOUS, of the girl on the team who binged and then threw it all up in the bathroom afterward.
    3. Going with my husband and kids, and realizing how little food was truly healthy (I’ve always been fastidious about what my kids eat…ironic, eh?) for my little ones.
    4. Knowing that, Ryan’s would be one of the last places I would choose to eat now for so many reasons. One is the lack of nutritious food, but the other is that I just don’t do buffets anymore. I hate to “waste” that money, and I’m not willing to “waste” my health.

  31. Joe says:

    I haven’t been to one in years, and for different health reasons. I watched a young kid walk through the line tasting things with his fingers – I left never to return.

  32. Taryl says:

    Boy I’ve been there, in fact I used to work at a buffet (Souplantation, otherwise known as Sweet Tomatoes in some states) and the food and quantities was hard to resist. I loved buffets! I confess, I still do, but I make a point of bulking up on genuinely healthy choices and using the buffet style to pick a SMALL amount of a variety of foods. I probably eat at one once every two years, these days, so it isn’t a big issue, but back before I really cared about quantities and portions they were definite pitfalls for me,

    It’s all about knowing what we can and can’t take. I can take a buffet, but the brownie pan? Forget it!

Leave a Reply