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Diet Friendly Dining: Golden Corral

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/11/2010 6:05 AM   :  115 comments   :  21,066 Views

When eating away from home, it is important to have an eating plan and strategy to help you remain successful as you move toward your weight loss goals.

One of the typical recommendations when choosing a restaurant is to avoid "all-you-can-eat" places. However, sometimes despite your plans, that is where you end up dining. Here are some things to keep in mind next time you visit Golden Corral

Although you are sure to find 'friendly service, great value and fresh and tasty food' when you dine at Golden Corral, if you are not careful you will also find that you can easily over-extend your calorie intake as well. The endless buffet certainly provides an opportunity to be overwhelmed by all the choices that causes you to throw up your hands and your good intentions to stay on track and give in to all the tempting favorites.

In our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series we try to arm you with healthier options before you dine away from home so you can keep your meal intake at 500 calories and 15-20 grams of fat or less. Although we know many of you are also looking for lower sodium options (and we try to highlight them when we find them), it is important to understand that most restaurant foods are higher in sodium and care must be taken if you are following a sodium restricted diet. We can only inform you about the nutritional information and many times that doesn't include many low sodium choices.

When visiting the Golden Corral's Endless Buffet, here are a couple helpful guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Select an entrιe first - You can start by checking out the Applewood Grill portion of the buffet which provides many entrιe options that are 250 calories per serving or less as well as providing built in portion control. If you don't find what you are interested in, move on to the other part of the buffet using the highlighted information from this article as your guide.

  • Portion Control is Key - Remember that a portion is the size you take or choose to eat and a serving is the recommended amount you need for nutrition. Many times those are not the same but part of your key to success when eating away from home it for them to be. It will be very important and helpful to learn visual cues for correct serving sizes when selecting portions from the buffet.

  • Consider it a choice, not a trough - My wonderful grandfather was a regular several times a week at an all-you-can-eat buffet when he was living and independent. Over the years, the wait staff knew he would be 'going to the trough' as he would jokingly refer to it when he would order. Today my family still fondly refers to all-you-can-eat buffets as 'the trough'. One of the reasons my grandfather would select a buffet was because of the choice they provided. He could always count on the price but could make different selections each time he visited based on what sounded good to him at the time. Next time you visit a 'trough', remember it is a choice and not as a place to pig out.

  • Let Veggies fill the void - When making selections at a buffet remember to focus on a complete meal instead of getting your money's worth. After you select an entrιe, be sure to look for a fruit and low fat dairy serving as well. Use steamed veggies to fill your plate and as an option if you feel you need to go back for seconds.
Here are some of the better selection choices to keep in mind when selecting from the Endless Buffet.

Applewood Bacon-wrapped Sirloin – 1 piece serving

Calories - 250

Fat – 12 grams

Sodium – 720 mg

Carbohydrates – 2 grams

Fiber - 0 grams

Protein – 34 grams

Applewood Bacon-wrapped Pork – 1 piece serving

Calories - 250

Fat – 17 grams

Sodium - 660 mg

Carbohydrates – 1 gram

Fiber - 0 grams

Protein – 21 grams

Applewood Crab Stuffed Yellowfin Sole – 1 piece serving

Calories - 130

Fat – 14 grams

Sodium – 820 mg

Carbohydrates – 10 grams

Fiber - 1 gram

Protein - 23 grams

Applewood Bacon Spinach Salad

Calories – 100

Fat – 11 grams

Sodium – 340 mg

Carbohydrates – 7 grams

Fiber – 2 grams

Protein – 7 grams

Fat Free French Dressing – 2 tablespoon serving

Calories – 40

Fat – 0 grams

Sodium – 300 mg

Carbohydrates – 10 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 0 grams

Fat Free Ranch Dressing – 2 tablespoon serving

Calories – 35

Fat – 0 grams

Sodium – 300 mg

Carbohydrates – 9 grams

Fiber – 0 grams

Protein – 0 grams

Fat Free Thousand-Island Dressing – 2 tablespoon serving

Calories – 40

Fat – 0 grams

Sodium – 250 mg

Carbohydrates – 10 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 0 grams

Applewood Flatbread – 1 piece serving

Calories – 110

Fat – 5 grams

Sodium – 290 mg

Carbohydrates – 11 grams

Fiber – 1 grams

Protein – 5 grams

Applewood Bacon-wrapped Scallops – 2 piece serving

Calories – 110

Fat – 4 grams

Sodium – 310 mg

Carbohydrates – 3 gram

Fiber – 0 grams

Protein – 12 grams

Applewood Bacon Loaded Potato Soup

Calories – 250 calories

Fat – 14 grams

Sodium – 1120 mg

Carbohydrates – 21 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 10 grams

Applewood Bacon-wrapped Chicken – 1 piece serving

Calories – 200

Fat – 8 grams

Sodium – 640 mg

Carbohydrates – 3 grams

Fiber – 0 grams

Protein – 23 grams

Excalloped Apples

Calories - 130

Fat – 1.5 grams

Sodium – 20 mg

Carbohydrates – 29 grams

Fiber – 2 grams

Protein – 0 grams



Other good Endless Bar options

Awesome Pot Roast

Calories – 100

Fat – 4.5 grams

Sodium – 200 mg

Carbohydrates – 5 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 10 grams

Baked Fish with Shrimp and Lemon Butter

Calories – 160

Fat – 10 grams

Sodium – 410 mg

Carbohydrates – 2 grams

Fiber – 0 grams

Protein – 16 grams

Baked Florentine Fish

Calories – 180

Fat – 12 grams

Sodium – 290 mg

Carbohydrates – 2 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 14 grams

Broccoli and Rice – half cup serving

Calories – 120

Fat – 5 grams

Sodium – 430 mg

Carbohydrates – 16 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 3 grams

Steamed Broccoli – half cup serving

Calories – 25

Fat – 0 grams

Sodium – 190 mg

Carbohydrates – 6 grams

Fiber – 3 grams

Protein – 2 grams

Steamed Cauliflower – half cup serving

Calories – 20

Fat – 0 grams

Sodium – 180 mg

Carbohydrates – 3 grams

Fiber – 2 grams

Protein – 1 gram

Collard Greens

Calories – 35

Fat – 1 gram

Sodium – 330 mg

Carbohydrates – 4 grams

Fiber – 2 grams

Protein – 1 gram

Green Beans – half cup serving

Calories – 35

Fat – 1.5 grams

Sodium – 520 mg

Carbohydrates – 4 grams

Fiber – 2 grams

Protein – 1 gram

Salmon Lemonata – 3 ounce serving

Calories – 130

Fat – 10 grams

Sodium – 470 mg

Carbohydrates – 3 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 7 grams

Shrimp Flatbread – 1 piece serving

Calories – 120

Fat – 4.5 grams

Sodium – 260 mg

Carbohydrates – 10 grams

Fiber – 1 gram

Protein – 9 grams

Have you learned any tips for selecting from a buffet? Why do you think this is OR is not one of the better eating out options?


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Comments

  • BLUE**EYES
    115
    I won't eat at buffets because of all the germs from people touching the serving utensils. I contracted norovirus at a Golden Corral and that set off my fears. On a good note, I did lose a few pounds from being so sick. - 1/4/2011   8:07:25 PM
  • JNDPERRY
    114
    All-you-can-eat places can be harder because of all the choices available, but they can also be easier! It is nice to know that they'll always have a salad bar with TONS of choices to start, and then for the entree, I just have to make smarter choices...just like at home! - 6/7/2010   7:42:40 PM
  • 113
    I love Golden Corral and am glad to know that there are some healthy entree choices. I know they have a great salad bar & veggies, but was always unsure about the rest. Thanks for the info! - 6/5/2010   10:02:21 PM
  • 112
    I love eating at Goldern Corral because I am eating all the veggie and fruits I normally don't get at home. I do try to stay clear of the sweets and the the fried foods. - 4/4/2010   12:14:22 PM
  • 111
    Another awesome place to eat and good to know. Watching portions is the biggest part at any all-you-can-eat restaurant. - 3/8/2010   6:42:46 PM
  • SUZYQ19711
    110
    Since starting sparkpeople less than a month ago I have stirred clear of buffets but this article is helping me to think they are not so bad. I hope my will power wins out the next time I go. I also would like some advice on Chinese Buffet's there is one near my house that is wonderful. - 2/19/2010   7:44:26 PM
  • 109
    GC has great choices. - 2/7/2010   5:35:50 PM
  • GIANT-STEPS
    108
    Golden Coral is my daughter's favorite restaurant. It is easy to overeat at buffets though.

    I find the only way I can not blow my calorie budget is to have a huge salad, a plain baked potato, lots of veggies, and some diced melon for desert. I might let myself have one or two onion rings or one small cookie if I've been good the rest of the day. - 1/25/2010   5:48:53 PM
  • 107
    Oh, I try to avoid buffets of any kind. My problem is that even though I may select "moderate" portions of whatever I want, I still tend to eat too much. Why ? there are soooooo many things to choose from !!! Some days, I want to try them all ! thus the need to either avoid buffets or eat them once in a while. - 1/25/2010   12:12:44 PM
  • 106
    Great article it's nice to know you can eat Helathy even out - 1/25/2010   7:19:22 AM
  • 105
    Great article and very helpful - 1/24/2010   10:12:53 AM
  • 104
    Thank you for sharing. It is good to know we have choices when we are put in the situation of eating at a buffet. It's all about choices and portions. We tend to stay away from buffets (as we like to decide how our items are prepared) but we sometimes go when it is a family event/celebration.
    - 1/19/2010   9:05:21 AM
  • 103
    I've never been to a Golden Corral, but I do tend to overeat at 'the trough' whenever I visit a buffet -- especially a brunch buffet!! Thanks for this article because it shows that I can STILL go to a buffet but just use a bit of planning and smarts to avoid overeating. - 1/18/2010   12:11:50 AM
  • 102
    I've been avoiding these places- now I have info to make great choices. Thanks. - 1/17/2010   6:06:42 AM
  • 101
    GC does have a lot of choice - so does Ryan's, which joined forces with GC in the last couple of years, I think. There ARE ways to manage the trip.

    (1) Their plates are on the small side. This is GOOD. I allow myself one plate with anything I want on it. The rule is that there must be "white space" between the choices, and nothing may be piled on top of something else. I suppose I should have a rule about the minimum number of items, since one glob of one food would count as okay under that scheme, but hey - it's a buffet - too many choices to eat only one thing, right? I am fortunate in that I really love the collard greens and beans and steamed broccoli, and not the chicken pot pie or mac and cheese so much. But even if you do, you can't eat too much with this limitation.

    (2) If I want seconds, I can have as many as I want on Plate 2, as long as they're steamed veggies, or veggies not gooped up in any kind of sauce. I used to allow myself another serving of steak, but I don't think I will any more.

    (3) Dessert. I ask myself, "You've had some of pretty much every item here. Are any of them REALLY worth the calories?" That answer is no. I love banana pudding, but I don't love theirs. Same with everything else they put out. Oh I like some things, but not enough to spend the calories on them. When I think of it that way, I am not depriving myself of dessert. I am spending the calories on something that I'll get more pleasure out of, and I probably have it at home. - 1/16/2010   4:50:44 PM
  • 100
    This was very helpful. Last night my mother took my family to her favorite restaurant. With this article and my iPhone in hand, I saved the table (coats, etc) while selecting my dinner from the items listed above. I managed to have my dinner without regret and stay within my calories I had for dinner. I was within guidelines throughout the plan (I did not have a salad - I ate "regular" food as listed in the article). I did not have the desert or rolls though. - 1/16/2010   1:14:35 PM
  • 99
    I am not a fan of buffets in general...........usually loud and chaotic which I do not feel is conducive to a positive and relaxing meal. The choices usually seem laden with fat and calories. I also, hate to say this, wind up feeling depressed at seeing those around me gorge themselves with fattening foods. - 1/16/2010   12:31:36 PM
  • 98
    Boo hoo! I've always heard good things about Golden Coral Restaurants, but alas, the ONLY one in New England is in Springfield, MA, 2 1.2 hrs away from my home. Have any restaurant suggestions for the Lowell, MA area? - 1/15/2010   8:05:22 PM
  • 97
    I enjoy the GC with my family because my daughter loves the art projects at Kids Night, and I can eat some of my favorite veggies like brussel sprouts that no one else in my family will eat! Although the bakery is a temptation! - 1/15/2010   4:58:01 PM
  • MARSHA48
    96
    I LOVE Golden Corral. It iis hardto NOT overeat. - 1/15/2010   3:11:47 PM
  • 95
    I would think any buffet restaurant would be a potential for disaster for anyone trying to eat healthy-too many temptations! Especially if you can 't control your portions! - 1/14/2010   9:14:30 PM
  • 94
    I always have good intentions when I go into a buffet, as was stated - it is not always avoidable. But I nearly always over indulge. And trying to track calories is tough -( how many calories does a tsp of their spaghetti have?) Then when every one else is going for desserts I plan to get fruit but at the time usually get a couple high fat and high cal options.
    I know it is my choice to make but I inevitably make the wrong ones at the time. One day I hope to just naturally make the healthy choice but until then I avoid buffets. - 1/14/2010   5:24:08 PM
  • 93
    I can't handle buffets. - 1/14/2010   3:21:55 PM
  • 92
    It's very new in our area. So new it hasn't opened yet! Good info to know in case I do eat there. I'm glad to see so many good choices available. UMM I'm getting hungry!:( - 1/14/2010   12:48:55 PM
  • 91
    Thanks for the tips. I mentor a "little sister" and when I ask her where she wants to go for dinner, she always picks GC. It's an ideal place to take a picky 8 year old because she's bound to find something she likes, but I don't want to blow an entire day's worth of calories just to enjoy a dinner with her. These tips will definitely help next time she asks to go there! - 1/14/2010   11:30:41 AM
  • 90
    Where I live there are several GC. When I go I am there because I aam craving some foods that I don't have in my house, or it is something that I have not eaten in a while. I do plan the meal because when I visit I am usually at the end of a very busy day from church or from running around all day so it is the only full meal that I eaten all day. So when I get my plate I eat smart. Not so smart though that I don't enjoy my meal to kill the cravings that I want satified while I dine. I do watch portions and I do get my veggies but I also get fried chicken, a few shrimp, a hush puppy or two and a slice of pizza. I also get a small ice cream with nuts. But I will not have to have any of that for another 2-3 months so that is how I eat when I go to GC...Now the chinese buffet that is a different story..........Just kidding... :) - 1/14/2010   8:35:10 AM
  • 89
    This is wonderful! We just got a new GC not far from our house and I love their food selections. It's good to know that I can eat well and enjoy foods here! Thank you! - 1/14/2010   12:09:52 AM
  • 88
    The Golden Corral is one of our favorite when we are traveling..usually only eat breakfast and the GC is lunch and dinner...3-4 PM have fruit and water in the time waiting..but have interesting to see so don't think much about eating but do carry our water and fruit with us... Thank you for this ....we start at the salad bar... - 1/13/2010   6:18:24 PM
  • 87
    Golden Corral is my choice when we eat out. I always start at the salad bar and have a big plate of fresh veggies and fat free dressing before I even go look at the hot bar. Then I'm not as hungry when I go up. I pick a lean meat (like roasted chicken breast and remove the skin) and fill the rest of the plate with hot veggies. I never feel deprived there! - 1/13/2010   9:52:55 AM
  • 86
    Have not tried the Golden Corral, but at most "pig outs" we do treat it as a choice. We try to eat like at home, an entree, veggies, salad, etc. My dh is diabetic, so we're used to selective eating. One word of warning though...NEVER assume - always check out everything you try for the first time.

    We had lunch at Barnes & Noble cafe and then later that night had coffee and a granny smith apple purse. Several days later, because of a forum posting, I checked on our simple lunch (soup & sandwich) and evening dessert. We were horrified at the results - enough calories for three full meals and fat grams for a couple of days. - 1/13/2010   1:35:57 AM
  • 85
    I've eaten at different Golden Corrals and not had a problem with choosing a well balanced meal.

    My secret? As I go along the buffet, I have selective blindness.

    I can't see anything fried, nor do I see the green beans with large bacon strips. I don't see any of the vegetables that are in a creamy sauce and I only see the soft serve machine on an occasional basis.

    One of the pluses I have discovered is that in most of these restaurants, the people who bring you water and drinks are a bit more friendly than most. - 1/12/2010   10:12:23 PM
  • 84
    This is good to know and I can pass this to my daughter who lives in Muskogee, OK. Her boyfriend/partner works at the one in town.We don't have any of these locally here in S.CA (as far as I know) but Hometown Buffets. I rarely go to these type of places and haven't been to one in over 10 yrs. - 1/12/2010   9:26:38 PM
  • JUJUBEANS5
    83
    Thanks for the advice. My DH loves buffets and I try to discourage him. Carbs are one of my weeknesses. However I think I can use your advice and avoid the empty carbs. - 1/12/2010   5:37:16 PM
  • WEIGHT1109
    82
    Very helpful and interesting information. Makes one really think about eating out. - 1/12/2010   4:52:20 PM
  • 81
    We have 8 all you can eat Asian Buffets in our town...and I love them! I do not take any rice (unless they have a sushi bar open), noodles, etc. I stick with seafood and veggies, and I try to drain off as much of the sauces as I can. Fruit for dessert only. When I stick with this plan I can go back for 2nds, and not gain weight.
    One good rule of thumb for Asian foods, the thicker the sauce the meat is in, the more calories! - 1/12/2010   1:44:24 PM
  • 80
    Nice to know, just in case. - 1/12/2010   1:40:07 PM
  • 79
    Have I learned any tips from dining at buffets? Yes - STAY AWAY! I have no discipline. A weakness? Perhaps, but at least I know my limits. - 1/12/2010   1:26:31 PM
  • 78
    Thanks so much for the information (and the comments). They are building a GC about a mile from us and DH is so excited. I am not but now I'm aware of what healthier choices I can make when we do go. - 1/12/2010   12:58:56 PM
  • ELLAGSC
    77
    Thanks so much for this info,..very helpful! - 1/12/2010   12:49:03 PM
  • 76
    Thank you for the info. I love GC and usually frequent it only during military appreciation but the popularity of the promotional results in long lines, long waits and overcrowding. So unfortunately or fortunately I haven't been there in 09. I do appreciate the variety of food that allows for a well balanced meal, but of course everything in moderation is key. - 1/12/2010   12:22:53 PM
  • AARCHULETA
    75
    I really think it is a good idea to just avoid restaraunts like this. I try my hardest not to go to all you can eat buffets. Once in a while I will go for oriental food, but I always regret it. When you pay $7-$9 for the meal you want to get your money's worth, and to be honest, going to Golden Corrall and just getting a few items isn't worth the money, so to avoid eating my money's worth, I just don't go. - 1/12/2010   11:48:46 AM
  • 74
    I work at an all you can eat Buffet at an Itlaian Resturant. I'm the cook. YES I see all what goes into the food that we serve & yes alot of white pasta, fried foods, Garlic knots, Cheese & more cheese. Then the wings & pizza.Then the salad bar-PLUS the rich deserts.. I see so many who come there to eat. I see somethings that really shock me! Like someone drinking blue cheese dressing like a soda from a glass.So to make a long story short. I DONT eat fast foods I stay in my own eatting healthy .. Thanks.. - 1/12/2010   10:49:55 AM
  • ITCANBEDUN
    73
    Thanks for the information. I try not to eat all-u-can-eat, but I now I know there is some healthier choices. - 1/12/2010   10:43:54 AM
  • 72
    thanks a bunch...I've been telling my hubbie I did not want to go out to eat anymore.((he lives for it)) I do not find going out to eat so appealing anymore...I worry about getting off track. Now you have armed me with some info. Now I do not have to worry about eating out anymore with the Golden Corral. Thanks!!! and if my hubbie were a member he would thank you to. - 1/12/2010   10:39:28 AM
  • 71
    I avoid the temptation of buffets becuase there is just so much food and I only have so much will power. Plus most of the time they seem over priced and I can't eat $20 worth of food most of the time anyway. Seems like a waste of money to me. - 1/12/2010   10:35:54 AM
  • 70
    I try to avoid buffets, not so much because of the temptations but because it kind of makes me think of pigs at the trough. People are so wasteful and leave so much food on their plates while they are back filling another plate. Some parents let small children run wild and fill their own plates while making a mess and annoying others. I'll pass on the buffets, thanks. - 1/12/2010   9:51:04 AM
  • 69
    I have never eaten there but have eaten at similar places. Great tips on how to manage the onslaught of food choices. - 1/12/2010   9:46:23 AM
  • 68
    Great tips!. I LOVE the GC and I usually go for the fish....it is awesome.....but I have NO self-control when it comes to the Chocolate Bar!!!!!!!! If you want a chocolate fix then this is the place to go.........if you want to watch the lbs. then THIS IS NOT the section to stop at - 1/12/2010   9:23:10 AM
  • 67
    I love eating at the Golden Corral - I always start with a heaping plate of salad - usually a spinach or mixed greens (or both) base, lots of tomatoes, sprinkles of chickpeas, chopped eggs, etc. Low fat dressing, of course. 30 minutes to eat it. Once I'm stuffed with that, I check out the entrees and try to pick the lowest cal/fat ones. Side veggies, maybe some fruit, and I'm done. I only eat there once or less a week, as a reward. - 1/12/2010   8:25:17 AM
  • 66
    Great information. Buffet always seem scary. But you have made a great point that will help on those times we have to go there! - 1/12/2010   8:20:38 AM

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