When my son was a little guy, sometimes it was a wonder just watching him eat. As a toddler, he could put away two eggs, a piece of toast, two slices of bacon and a glass of milk. The child had two hollow legs and a hole in one foot! No kidding, he ate like a field hand.
But only when he was about to have a growth spurt.
He would carb up, chow down, get a little round in the middle, then stop eating almost completely as he shot up. During the times when he was growing and off his food, I would mix Pediasure with milk to give him chocolate milkshakes, or what he called his “nutritionals.”
As the toddler became the little boy, the little boy became the big boy, and the big boy became the young man, the volume of food ingested prior to growth spurts became almost staggering. He drank up to four gallons of milk a week and could just about eat us out of house and home. “All You Can Eat Buffet” became the priority feature when choosing a restaurant for him and I was all for it, as well.
I could eat a plate of salad, another of meat and veggies (and I use the term veggies loosely), and a final plate of dessert. I wanted to get my money’s worth, didn’t I? Of course, I did! And, boy, did I ever! Right on up to about 240 pounds. I could barely fit in the chairs. I was just one milkshake away from needing a seat belt extension when I flew. Of course, that wasn’t all from buffets, but goodness knows I enjoyed every morsel they had to offer.
Fast forward three years and few things are as effective as an All You Can Eat Buffet for getting me back on track for eating correctly.
As I mentioned yesterday, I went with some coworkers at a local breakfast buffet on Saturday morning. Nearly everything on the buffet was either bread (muffins, waffles, pancakes), animal protein (eggs, bacon, sausage, hash), carbs (hashbrowns, home fries, sawmill gravy) or sugar (canned fruit, syrup, chocolate gravy). Oatmeal was the only marginally healthy option. I say marginally because there was a film of grease over nearly everything – a film that three years ago, I wouldn’t have even noticed. Now, it makes my stomach turn.
It also makes my stomach turn to see obese diners who are like I once was – unable to fit into a single chair comfortably, going back for second and third helpings, gorging on more calories than they need to consume in two days, consuming more sodium than they need in three days, clogging their arteries, confounding their insulin production, putting stress on their organs and on their joints. And feeding their already overweight children the same way.
And it doesn’t matter if it’s a breakfast buffet or a lunch or dinner one. Lunch or dinner ones offer more “vegetables;” but, overcooked string beans, limp turnip or collard greens cooked with fat back, mushy buttered baby carrots, fried okra, corn fritters, fried squash, fried macaroni and cheese, iceberg lettuce are hardly sources of good nutrition. The nutrition has been cooked out of or negated in all the cooked veggies and the salads are mostly iceberg lettuce which is water and fiber.
Next time you find yourself at one of these buffets, rather than looking at the buffet with your stomach, look with your intellect. Is what you see offered there going to move you towards better health or is it going to sabotage your efforts? Use these tips to eat mindfully, or go on the Buffet Diet and start with a great big serving of turn around and leave.