If restaurants stopped offering so-called “all you can eat” buffets, would that have any positive effect on the national obesity epidemic?
Well, it certainly wouldn’t keep us from consuming all we can eat in our own homes.
The Obesity Action Coalition, a nonprofit organization, states on its website, “The prevalence of ‘super size’ options and ‘all you can eat’
buffets create a trend in overeating.”
However, it seems to me that “super size” and “all you can eat” have different psychological impacts, especially on Baby Boomers.
Going for the super-sized portion option at a fast-food restaurant has a lot to do with a feeling of entitlement.
I’ve worked hard. I deserve it. I can pay for it. I deserve it.
“All you can eat” implies that you had better get as much as you can for one flat price while you can get it. Somehow, there’s a feeling that if you have not stuffed yourself, or if you pick at your food, you are wasting part of the purchase price.
The fear of being wasteful is a major guilt trip, especially for Baby Boomers suckled at the breasts of Great Depression survivors.
When we were children, our parents drilled it into our heads at the dinner table.
“Eat everything on your plate! Remember, there are starving children in Europe!”
How compelling a finicky American child to wolf down liver and Brussels sprouts would feed the starving children of Europe escapes me.
But the point is that we should be grateful for whatever food we have instead of rejecting it for any reason, including a stomach that, for the moment, is full.
The message was, after all, delivered by people whose childhood occurred at a time when many Americans literally did not know when or if they would have anything to eat.
Please bear in mind that millions of American children were reared on this fear-based dogma, and it remains in the subconscious mind to this day.
Eat now, for tomorrow you may starve.
And besides, we don’t have enough money to take you to the doctor if you get rickets because you refuse to drink your milk.
Of course, as adults, we can choose to reject our parents’ well-intentioned instructions and proceed down a different path.
We have access to knowledge they didn’t have.
However, I’ve often wondered if the poor and working poor eat at “all you can eat” restaurants on those rare occasions when they can afford to take their families out to eat because think they can eat enough in one sitting to enable them to save money in the long run by skipping regular meals.
The human body often is compared to the internal combustion engine. But there’s a big difference.
I can “fill ‘er up” at the gas station and the restaurant. But it doesn’t really matter whether I buy regular gasoline at Exxon or Shell.
However, it does really matter whether I “fill ‘er up” at a pizza palace or a salad bar.