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Americans love a deal when it comes to dining. Americans also love big plates of food, and lots of them. So, it’s no wonder that buffet restaurants are so popular in the U.S. Large, shiny buffets, packed with never-ending food options, draw diners in like insects to a bug zapper. What a spectacle it is to watch glazed-over buffet diners scurrying about with the conviction of a heroin junkie looking to score. Gluttony is alive and well in America. But here are some things to consider next time you feel like eating at Barf-o-Rama.

1) Way Too Much Food

First and foremost, the human body is not designed to eat four heaping plates of food–it’s just not healthy to overeat in this manner. Not saying it’s not fun to stuff yourself from time to time, though. Yet sitting down to a 3000-plus calorie dinner is a bad idea, especially if you are trying to watch your weight. (It would take you several hours on an elliptical to burn that off!) But most people that dine regularly at buffet restaurants aren’t counting calories–the dining rooms look like a casting call for “The Biggest Loser.” Of course, you can find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables on buffets, but that’s generally not what people desire when they go to places like these–salt and fat are the preferred choices.

2) Salt! Salt! And More Salt!

Speaking of salt, restaurant food is notoriously packed with sodium. Do you know why you are so thirsty when dining at buffet restaurants? It’s not just because you need lots of fluid to wash down all that food; it’s also because consuming too much salt makes you extremely thirsty. Water would be a healthy choice, yet many people down glass after glass of carbonated soft drinks–a double whammy: too much salt and too much sugar! Once again, eating some fruit and a big salad (light on the dressing) is a good way to keep from becoming brackish like an old seabed.

3) “My Heart!”

There’s a reason why most buffet restaurants keep a defibrillator hanging around. Obese people with high blood pressure are prime candidates for heart attacks. And nothing causes someone’s blood pressure to spike like overeating, especially with salty, fatty food. Buffet restaurants should put blood pressure-monitoring machines by the door, next to the defibrillator, so diners can check their numbers on the way out. Or employees could just zap them for good measure before sending them out onto the streets.

4) “Fetch Me A Bucket…”

Food-borne bacteria can breed like rabbits when food is not held at safe temperatures, which is a common problem at buffet restaurants. Trouble can arise anytime hot food (held in steam tables) dips below 140 degrees, especially as it nears the 90-degree mark–those lukewarm scalloped potatoes could potentially have you speaking to the porcelain gods all night. The same goes for chilled food that spikes above 40 degrees. A mayonnaise-based salad (cole slaw, for instance) can become dangerous to consume as the temperature rises. Can you say Ralph?

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