The Golden Corral Dilemma

Today my son turned 17. Birthday tradition in our house is that we go out to eat at a restaurant chosen by the birthday person. For some unexplained reason, Jared chose to eat at Golden Corral. Not Fogo de Chao, not Fujiyama … Golden Corral. Off we went! So what does one eat at Golden Corral that’s relatively healthy? Here’s what I had:

1) A huge salad loaded with every vegetable possible and some sunflower seeds
2) A small steak
3) A very tiny portion of baked tilapia
4) Green Beans
5) Cauliflower
6) A small piece of fudge and a coconut macaroon (we were celebrating, after all)

In a restaurant such as Golden Corral, “healthy” is obviously a relative term. Nothing organic and very few low-carb options, but there were options. My advice when eating in a restaurant that doesn’t have good options includes:

1) Load up on veggies and salad. Eating these foods first will help fill you up. Additionally, loading up with a high fiber food early in the meal will help slow the absorption of the carbs that are are bound to follow. Slowing the absorption of carbs will help keep blood sugars lower and will help prevent your body from needing to produce a lot of insulin. (Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so keeping insulin levels low can help with weight loss and maintenance.)

2) Keep portions small, or at least reasonable. When eating at a buffet, you have the advantage of being able to choose your own portion sizes. If you use discipline, you can avoid completely pigging out. When eating out, ask your server to bring a to go box when s/he delivers the food. That way you can box up the excess, stick it under your chair, and save it for lunch tomorrow. This is one of the most effective ways I know of to avoid overeating when eating out.

3) Set boundaries, enjoy every bite to the fullest, and move on. The worst thing you can do when splurging is to lay a guilt trip on yourself. My advice is to keep the splurges infrequent, but to enjoy every single bite to the absolute fullest. Set healthy boundaries about how much you’ll splurge, and then move on without looking back. NO ONE eats perfectly all the time, and beating yourself up mentally is unhealthy, so enjoy the splurge (in moderation) and then move forward without looking back.

By making careful choices and avoiding any blended foods, I was able to completely avoid my allergies. Folks with Celiac would have to be extremely careful to avoid cross-contamination when eating in a buffet.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to eat in such an abomination of a restaurant. Which goes to show that making careful choices and eating proper portion sizes is always possible.

I will write more about eating well when eating out. What are your tricks? Please share!

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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