Beware of the Buffet

I went to Las Vegas this past weekend. For those of you who’ve been there, you know what I mean when I say that everything is larger than life there. From the hotels, to the casinos, the shows and the throngs of people, it’s a busy, colorful place. There’s a lot to do. And many of us love to patronize restaurants there. And one type of eating establishment found in the city that is rarely ignored is the buffet.

Buffet restaurants exist in all cities in the U.S. and beyond. Loaded with a variety of foods they can tempt even the healthiest of eater to overindulge, although there are many who resist the allure. Can we do more calorie, fat, and carb damage at a buffet restaurant than at any other place that we eat? You bet we can. And we often do.

I love to watch people as they navigate the various stations at the buffets and see what they choose to dish up and how much of it they pile on their plates. And while most buffets have a salad bar, the reality is that there are far more foods that are of a less healthy nature. Fried foods, buttery and mayo heavy concoctions, gravies, sauces and more abound.

I have to admit I let loose a little bit and had some higher calorie and fat foods, such as eggs benedict (sans the Canadian bacon), hash browns and a small serving of desert items. I enjoyed these items, as they are treats for me and not an everyday or even every month staple. I made sure that my plate had a nice selection of veggies from the salad bar and fruit. My husband, however, joined a lot of our fellow diners and threw caution to the wind. He loaded his plate with what I call “brown food,” nothing but fried, cheesy and gravy covered food. He chose the larger plates instead of what I would recommend doing and utilizing the small plates for the less healthy choices. And he filled the large plate to the brim…three times! He likely had more calories in that one meal than he needed in three days. It was too much.

And while a buffet may not be on your typical restaurants stops (as mine is not), that doesn’t mean that we don’t overeat on a regular basis. We do this at sit-down and fast food restaurants, at home and at just about everywhere we eat. And many of us loosen up when we vacation. How many of you have come home weighing more after your travels? If it’s a pound or so, it’s not such a setback. More weigh gained can be harder to get off. So, I recommend while on vacation to enjoy the food, but don’t completely abandon your healthy eating ways. Higher calorie and fat items should be thought of as treats. Keep it healthy most of the time. If you consume 500 extra calories each day, you will likely gain one pound in a week. If you increase your exercise, like so many of us do when traveling, you will burn some of those extra calories. My husband was spared too much weight gain from his overeating in Las Vegas because we walked so much. On the day of the buffet, we took 29,000 steps, almost 15 miles worth of walking! So, aim for fun and balance. If you avoid too many trips to the buffet, you should be okay.

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