Buffets seem like a bane to Americans who want to avoid putting on weight.
All-you-can-eat meals can increase the temptation to overeat, especially when you haven’t yet gotten around to that sweet and sour chicken.
Ross Brownson of George Warren Brown School of Social Work agrees.
Brownson explained that among lower income Americans, buffets and cafeterias can give obese Americans access to large amounts of food.
Based on surveys conducted, those with lower incomes who are obese are also the most likely to eat at buffets, cafeterias and fast food restaurants.
Can buffets make you eat less?
We might intuitively think that buffets are obvious sources of overeating, but in some cases buffets can actually decrease eating.
The key fact about buffets is that diners are able to better control the amount of food that they eat.
This is contrasted by most restaurants that have controlled proportions. Customers who are given large amounts of food are more likely to eat them. But when proportions are chosen, diners have more flexibility to control how much they eat.
Why it’s different with lower income diners?
Those with lower incomes often feel that buffets give them a chance to eat many of the foods that they would normally not be able to afford. There might also be a psychological factor at play.
Those who are less able to afford meals might instinctively sense that they should be stocking up on the calories that they might otherwise be deprived of.
Some diners report that they can trick themselves into eating less. Much of eating is psychological and diners often overestimate how much food they actually need to consume. The saying “the eyes are bigger than the stomach” rings true here.
But the eyes can be tricked by increasing the proportions of very low calorie foods like vegetables found at the salad bar.
Also, many diners claim that they eat less if they use smaller plates. These diners find that the plates often trick the mind into thinking that it’s eating more than it really is.
Other factors that can contribute to obesity
According to the survey, in addition to the factor of lower income, individuals are more likely to be obese when they live in areas where exercise is not considered enjoyable, such as areas that lack parks and trails.
Also, those with less education are more likely to be obese. But this is likely correlated with the fact that those with less education are likely to have lower incomes.
What does this mean for me?
Start dining in. Those with a lower income can stretch their dollar much farther if they purchase foods in bulk. Also, even though fruit and vegetable costs are on the rise, there are many seasonal fruits and vegetables that will still remain cheap.
As for exercise, try to make up for the fact that your area is boring to exercise in by trying new and more enjoyable exercises. Also, keep reminding yourself of the benefits of exercise before you start.