Navigating the legendary—and numerous—Las Vegas buffets is a definitive act in courage and hunger.
It’s an age-old question that man has had difficulty tackling and has yet to develop an effective strategy – how do you handle a buffet.
For those of us who live in Las Vegas or those who visit the city, it’s a dilemma like no other. But no matter where you live, there’s always a buffet for you.
Tackling a pizza buffet or a Chinese food buffet takes out the decision making because it’s just a variation of the same food for the most part.
As a kid growing up in Illinois in the 1970s, they weren’t even called buffets. It was a smorgasbord.
Back then, the made me feel like a boy in a candy store wanting to sample a little of everything. It took a lesson from a family friend and veteran of the all-you-eat places to give me this advice: just tackle a few items that you like.
I have heeded during my time in Las Vegas but knowing what foods I like at this or that buffet. For some it’s the crab and for others it’s the prime rib.
Taking that strategy is easier said than done today at many buffets today where chefs go all out on menus that include Kobe beef, all kinds of pasta, crab and many choices of fish. And we haven’t even gotten to the desert tray yet. You want to get your 40 to 50 bucks worth at some of the most expensive buffets.
You can’t help but feel stuffed after you’ve gone and after enough buffets in a short period of time, you vow never to return anytime soon.
Despite our dilemma in how to tackle a buffet, researchers have given us some advice.
A study from Cornell University says that that if we want to avoid stuffing ourselves and gaining weight from our buffet experience, it’s best to start by eating healthier foods. That sets the tone for the rest of the meal, researchers say.
That may work but it’s not that easy when you’re looking at all that tasty food in the buffet to make your first stop at the salad bar.
The research comes from a study looking at more than 120 people at a conference in Utah. They directed one set of diners to start at a line that featured scrambled eggs with cheese along with bacon and potatoes. Cinnamon rolls were in the middle. It ended with granola, yogurt and fruit.
The second set of diners tackled the fruit, yogurt and granola first.
I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise but more than three quarters of the diners took the first food they saw and two thirds took some of the first three foods they saw. Some 86 percent took fruit when it was offered first but 54 percent took it when it was last on the buffet. Some 75 percent took the eggs when it was first and 29 percent took them when it was last.
The result reveals that those who started with the healthier items ate less of the scrambled eggs with cheese. If you started with the eggs, you had about a third more food items on your plate.
Not only does the research help guide what people do at buffets but it can also be instrumental what schools do in their cafeterias, researchers say. That means schools can arrange food in a way to cut down on child obesity rates.
In previous a previous Cornell study, researchers found that at a Chinese buffet, those people who are thin tend to browse more, chew more and eat on smaller plates and with chopsticks. Those who weighed more bypassed the chopsticks and ate faster with forks using bigger plates that they just put on without surveying the buffet. The heavier people were also more likely to have their napkin on the table than their lap like the thinner people did, researchers say.
As for why chewing food longer is important, those people tend to weigh less, researchers say. The faster people eat means they don’t get the signal to their brain quicker that they are full.
In addition, Cornell researchers have also studied the effect of the price of a buffet and how it affect diners. What they found is that the price of the buffet determined how people rated the food. The lower the cost the lower people rated the food, researchers say.
Those who paid the higher price at a pizza buffet, for example, say it was 11 percent tastier. Those who paid a lower price say the pizza got worse with each slice they ate.
I know a lot of us get much more enjoyment out of an expensive buffet thinking we got our money’s worth.
We have a study for everything else to guide our decisions. Now we can use that advice the next time we go to a buffet.