Step Away From the Buffet

Back away slowly if you have to, but do it.

Jason and I used to love going to Chinese buffets. When we lived in Arizona, we would frequent certain ones just when we knew the food would be freshest. Of course, sometimes we were wrong, but I suppose that’s the chance you take with buffets.

With Weight Watchers, I figured out that my Chinese buffet meal wouldn’t be too terribly bad if I followed a few rules. I’d load up on the broccoli chicken (heavy on the broc) and that would leave me enough points to get a few buttered shrimp, a bit of sweet & sour chicken (no sauce) and a chicken satay.

If I stayed within my rules, I was fine, but the problem is that it was so easy to change the portions on my plate and fool myself into thinking that my meal was relatively healthy, even if it really wasn’t. I would add a few more shrimp, pour some sauce on the sweet & sour chicken, and I’m a sucker for the sugared donut.

Adding just a few fried items to my plate, could increase the calories significantly! But we don’t tell ourselves that while we’re filling it, do we?

When we got back on the Weight Watchers program this time around, we decided to go out for Chinese (my brother loves to go). I was determined to stick to my rules, and I did. An interesting thing happened though. You see, in the town where we live, if you go out for Chinese (rather than ordering in) you’re going for the buffet. No questions, no exceptions. As we were sitting there with our plates filled with some fresh food (and some maybe not so fresh) we watched steaming plates being carried directly from the kitchen to the couple in the booth next to us.

Our minds were blown!

Ordering from the take out menu while eating at a Chinese buffet had been virtually unheard of. The idea had never occurred to us and we suddenly found it very appealing. The three of us vowed right then that the next time we had a hankering for Chinese we too would order from the menu.

We’ve not eaten buffet since.

Aside from how fresh the food is (which is AMAZING!) we always know exactly how many points they’re serving to us. Even better than that? I go no where near those super tempting sugared donuts anymore! In fact, Jason and I were just talking about how much we enjoy going out for Chinese now that we’ve taken to ordering from the take out menu while dining in. Here’s what our spread looked like yesterday at lunch:

Looks delicious, no? Broccoli Chicken (in front of me at the back of the picture) is by far the most healthy meal you can order off of a Chinese Menu. At just 3 points per cup, this entrée is loaded with veggies and is not fried. There may be a little bit of oil in the sauce from the cooking process, but not enough to matter. With a side of steamed rice (rather than fried) my meal  of 2 cups of the broccoli chicken and a half cup of rice clocks in at only 11 points plus. A good-sized meal, even for someone who may be at the minimum of 29 points per day. Because I currently have 44 points for the day, I go ahead and enjoy the egg roll (4 pts), fortune cookie (2 pts) and maybe even a low-fat ice cream cone (4pts) from McDonald’s on the way back to work. Right now those indulgences are right in line with my daily target, but I could cut any of them and not be hungry as my daily points target decreases.

Ok, so I know you’ve been eyeing the plate in the foreground of the picture. This one, my friends, isn’t nearly as healthy (but much better than outright buffet, especially for a guy like Jason) as my slimmed down Chinese meal. Of course, Jason also has 20 more points (64 for him!) to use each day than I do. Since it’s more difficult for him to eat those extra points when we’re cooking at home, he often takes advantage of being able to order something different when we go out to eat. His meal, which includes a full order of the orange chicken (mine is a lunch special) and fried rice clocks in at 38 points for the meal if he eats everything. He doesn’t eat an egg roll and rarely eats his fortune cookie. As his points decrease, he can switch to steamed rice, or forego it altogether. He also makes a point of eating the broccoli they serve with the meal so he can get some veggie filler. Overall, this is a good option for him right now.  I can just never order it.

We worried at first that our deciding to eat from the menu, rather than the already prepared food that’s served in the buffet, would upset the restaurant owners. We couldn’t have been more wrong. You see, now instead of an indulgence that we have to plan our day around, going out for Chinese is one of our standard options. I can always fit it in my daily points and so can Jason since he’s been known to order the same as me if he’s lower on points that day. They love us there. Instead of being an occassional customer, we’re regulars. In fact, there’s only one guy in the whole place who speaks english well enough to take our order. If it’s his day off, our server calls him so he can take it over the phone. They all smile broadly, grab chopsticks instead of the silverware, show us to a booth and say. “Diet Coke?”

We have no need to go back to buffet living.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Psynister
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 15:42:58

    ..crap, now I want Chinese for dinner…

    Reply

  2. Dacia
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 16:26:51

    crap…now I want chinese for dinner, too! 😉

    Reply

  3. Gwenyth Love
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 09:25:26

    I haven’t had Chinese food in so long…of course with my new eating plan I can’t have rice or any grains…so Chinese food is pretty much out…lol. But I like what steps you have taken to still enjoy what you like without going against your dieting plans. Great work!

    Reply

    • fynralyl
      Apr 08, 2011 @ 09:37:02

      You can still have veggies though, right? Last time we ate in I barely touched my rice and you could order it without so you just have the veggies and protein. Our place actually has a section on the menu for “light eaters” that has the entree, extra veggies, no rice. 🙂 Maybe Chinese doesn’t have to be out!

      Reply

      • Gwenyth Love
        Apr 08, 2011 @ 09:40:49

        Interesting idea! Yes I can have veggies, fruit and lean meats. That’s all. No gluten, no grains, so I typically even have to watch the sauces etc things are served in/with. It’s difficult, but it’s working for me, so I’ll stick with it…lol.

      • fynralyl
        Apr 08, 2011 @ 09:46:59

        Our “light eaters” menu also puts the sauce on the side so you can decide how much if any you want/can use. As you said, it’s all about finding ways to make your favorite foods work with your plan. Otherwise you can end up with temptation to “cheat”.

  4. Trackback: Tweaking Meals – Dining Out Version « The Chubby Couple
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