Buffet & Restaurant Eating Can Lead to  Obesity: Secrets to Avoid Gaining Weight

Restaurant and buffet eating can lead to rapid weight gain. Whether it’s on a cruise or at a Las Vegas casino, a wedding, a local buffet restaurant, or simply on vacation in a large hotel, just the word ”buffet” should ring a warning bell in the dieter’s brain – DANGER AHEAD. Regular restaurant eating is more expensive, but with a buffet, if it’s not free it certainly is cheap. It’s very easy to overeat since you are getting such a great deal. More food for less money or no money at all—that’s what food addicts love.

Ordering Large Amounts and Variety of Foods at Buffets

People will pick a greater assortment of foods from a buffet, in larger amounts than they would ever order from a waiter. Maybe its shame of ordering high-calorie foods from the waiter or eating the foods in front of spouses or friends. Perhaps it’s the cost. Restaurant eating – and especially buffet restaurants – can pack on the pounds. Many people are afraid of large plates of food, however in a buffet no one really knows how much you are eating and how many times you fill your plate.

No Time to Feel Full

The usual delay of ordering your food, and waiting for the delivery of each course is blurred in a buffet.  Things happen too quickly. You have no time to feel full from your soup and salad at a buffet before you are up looking for the main course. The whole meal, can be over in 20 minutes without ever feeling full. During a traditional restaurant meal you wait until the waiter delivers each course and have a chance to feel full before the next course arrives. The result is you end up eating less food.

Natural Inhibitions to Overeating Are Blurred

No one really knows who is eating what at a buffet, since there is so much wandering around. In a group of four diners, often one or two are up at a time obtaining seconds and thirds while two are eating. Socially it’s acceptable to pile the food on the plate since everyone is doing it.

It’s Free or Almost Free

Everyone wants a great deal, and a buffet is the best place to get it. All the food you can eat, no restrictions on the portion size or the number of choices. So much food and so little room in your stomach.

Nine Suggestions for Buffet & Restaurant Eating

  1. Find a table as far away from the food as possible: The farther the distance the less likelihood of going for seconds or thirds. It’s the old rule, out of sight our of mind.
  2. No single grazing rule: no one goes grazing by themselves or eats while another member of the party is out grazing.


  3. Small Plates & only two choices per plate: Some overweight people eat far too much when no one is looking. Use the smallest plate you can find and place on it only 2 choices at a time. It’s okay to go back for seconds, but remember only 2 choices on a plate. When it comes to dessert use a coffee cup size plate. Remember only 1 trip for dessert. fruits should be one of the choices.

    …SLOW DOWN. You don’t want to be done in 20 minutes.

  4. Start with something filling, such as a soup or salad. Pile the plate high with vegetables and fruits.
  5. Don’t eat what you can get at home. try new foods, especially the sea foods.
  6. Save your dessert, but always use a small plate and never go back for second deserts.

    …SLOW DOWN AGAIN – you are not waiting for a food server to pick up the order
    or for the kitchen to complete all the food for the table. You can finish in 15 minutes since the food is all prepared and right in front of you.

  7. Few foods and condiments are low fat or low carb. Buffets offer large amounts of foods at low prices. Low calorie, low carb or low fat food is more expensive and not usually packed in large commercial quantities. Its often more expensive as well.
  8. Behavior at the Buffet

    Dr Brian Wansink, in his book Mindless Eating reports on the behavior of thin and overweight people eating at a buffet. The heavier person tends to use larger plates, sits closer to the buffet table and starts eating immediately rather than cruising around to see what is available. Here are Dr. Wansink statistics:

    • 71% of normal weight diners browsed the buffet before eating, vs. 33% of obese diners.
    • 27% of normal weight dinners sat close to the buffet as compared to 42 % of overweight ones.
    • The average distance of overweight dinners was 16 feet from the buffet.
    • Normal weight people chewed their food 15 times vs. 12 times for obese dinners.