Learn to resist lure of buffet

By James Casey

When I was 10 years old, I would treat a buffet as a challenge.

I would either try to eat more than some of my family members or I would try to beat my own records. I once ate 12 cinnamon rolls at an Old Country Buffet. My family and friends would comment on how I was really getting my money’s worth.

Patrons of the campus dining facilities, especially those with the unlimited meal plan, have a constant temptation to gorge upon the treats of life. With at least one of the four all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities open for hours upon hours throughout the week, it can be easy to fall into the habit of overconsumption.

I noticed the phrase “all you can eat” has been phased out in Neptune’s dining area and replaced with “all you care to eat.”

“I don’t know that people will eat less because of a name change,” said Residential Dining Director Richard Fritz. “It sounds kinder, more cordial.”

I agree the subtle change sounds nicer, but I doubt a single word can curb our gluttonous nature.

“I guess it feels like they’re promoting health,” said freshman education major Isaac Aguilar. “When you say ‘care,’ it’s like you care about yourself.”

As Americans, we are trained to seek out the best deal, but being a world-class bargain hunter can’t be a good thing all the time. Considering the rise in obesity in this country, food should be an area of caution when it comes to value.

“Trays are being phased out,” Fritz said. “Tray-less operations reduce overconsumption but they’re also greener since washing them requires chemicals and energy.”

I was given a brief tour of Neptune’s dining and noticed that many of the items had the total fat and calories listed. In addition, more nutritional information for each item can be found online.

As a food lover, the smorgasbord concept is a beautiful thing. But as a nutrition major, I also want to eat smart. With knowledge and a little discipline, I can satisfy my palate without deep frying my conscience.

“Instead of focusing on ‘I shouldn’t have fried foods’ people should think ‘I shouldn’t have a plate full of fried foods,’” Fritz said. “People eat way too fast and way too much.”

For many years people have been encouraged to eat more, smaller meals. With an unlimited meal plan, students can come and go as they please. So, unlike me at 10 years old in the Old Country Buffet, there is no advantage to cramming food in one sitting.

Overconsumption also decreases in social settings: People eat slower because they are talking and are more aware of etiquette.

This allows the stomach to send the message, “Hey, I’m full. Stop eating,” which can take up to 30 minutes to arrive in the brain.

“What is particularly tragic is that studies have suggested that obesity in children today may contribute to a two- to five-year decline in their life expectancy, shorter than that of their parents, due to obesity related diseases that are largely preventable,” said Dr. Jessica Bartfield, according to an article on phys.org.

This potential risk alone should encourage anyone to abandon the mountain of food traditionally associated with a buffet experience.