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So the time has come. I've been a self-confessed all-you-can-eat (AYCE) buffet strategist for over a year now, revealing it only at parties (wow, I must be fun at parties, eh?) and social gatherings. But now the world deserves to have access to my extensive knowledge, research, and experience (visible in accordance with my current BMI).
Before the buffet
You've decided the time has come. The New Years' Resolution is out the window and you've got a burning desire to stuff your face to the brim with food. Good on you! But you're still unprepared, young padawan.
Step 1: Do your research.
Well done, you've decided that today is the day, later on, your stomach will be full. However, many fall at the first hurdle. They don't do the research required to maximise the profit that the buffet can offer.
There are three things to consider when it comes to choosing the buffet: price, food choice, and time limit. You want to max out on the latter two, whilst choosing the lowest price.
This doesn't mean the cheapest is the best - if Madras Curryhouse has an incredibly cheap AYCE buffet, the food choice is likely to be low. Why go just Indian when you can go to a world buffet?
Step 2: Eat light, eat once.
Eat well for breakfast, but don't over-do it. Food takes six to eight hours to digest. If you've started the AYCE buffet on a stomach that's still digesting... You've lost the battle already. But equally, it's important to stay nourished. Don't be an idiot and not eat...
If the last thing you ate before an AYCE buffet was the night before, you've ruined your appetite thermostat (yes, it's a real thing, don't @ me), so you won't be as hungry when the time comes. Yeah, science!
Step 3: Hydration
Hydration is great. However, when it comes to consuming beverages leading up to the buffet, ration yourself to water.
Or, if you're a weirdo and don't like the "taste" of water, drink the least calorie-intensive drink you possibly can. Low-sugar cordial is great too. When you take your first sip of an alcoholic beverage or carbonated fizzy drink, you've already failed. Trust me.
Step 4: Light exercise
Now don't lose faith in me here, I'm not crazy. I'm talking about going for a walk. Just burn a few calories without out-doing yourself. Burning those last minute calories can mean beating the buffet or not.
During the buffet
You've committed now, you've done all the steps above, your stomach is rumbling, and you're salivating at the sheer choice and smell. Your senses are going wild. It's like a less intense acid trip but instead of your toothbrush trying to kill you, you JUST. WANT. TO. EAT... (just me?)
Step 1: Stick to the water.
Whilst you're still a salivating mess, the waiter will take advantage of you and ask you if you would like to order a drink.
Always remember, the staff are the enemy, you are there to win. Order water. The last thing you need to do right there and then is order a calorie-intensive drink which will progressively fill you up as you eat.
Step 2: It's game-plan time.
An AYCE buffet is like a casino, the house always wins. That's why they exist. But on this occasion, you're here to beat the house (think of it as a less intense Ocean's Eleven).
You need to choose your game-plan wisely. Do a walk-around before tucking in. Identify high-value food items. You're looking for duck, salmon, sushi, beef, lamb, and pork (and other expensive foods). If it's posh, there might even be a bit of lobster or crab.
Step 3: Avoid Carbs.
No matter how nice that pasta looks, the calorie and carbohydrate content will betray you. I would dare say that a thin-crust pizza slice (or two) is okay, but if you only make it to plate five, don't blame me!
Step 4: Go to the back.
It's a tactic that sneaky buffets use to dupe their clientele into filling up on carbs. Many put their carbs and profitable items of food towards the front of the buffet. At the back is where you'll find the motherlode: lines of beef, shrimp, lobster (if you're lucky), duck, and all sorts of goodness.
Often, people are too full to venture deeper into the buffet or their smaller than average plates are full from the first section. Amateurs!
Step 5: Eat slowly.
Don't rush it. Bask in the sweet taste of success. You shall NOT go hungry tonight! Don't worry too much about the time limits. If they say you've been there too long, tell them you went to the toilet for 15 minutes... They won't question you again. If they don't have reserved tables, you'll be fine.
Step 6: Dessert
Now for the final hurdle, the dessert. Cake is easy to fill up on, so leave this until the end. Start with the trusty chocolate fountain, then pancakes... then finish up with the cake.
Step 1: Relax!
That's it...you've done it. If you've followed the steps, you've more than likely beaten the restaurant at their own game. Well done. Now, off to sleep you go...you deserve it.
A little extra (on the side)
This is aimed to be satirical content. Whilst these tips are ways that you can beat an All You Can Eat Buffet, I do not condone staying past the time limit or deliberately taking advantage of the All You Can Eat buffet.
Just have a good time, lads and ladies... Don't take life too seriously.