Diet Friendly Dining: Golden Corral

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/11/2010 6:00 AM   :  115 comments   :  22,242 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 entrée first - You can start by checking out the Applewood Grill portion of the buffet which provides many entrée 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 entrée, 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

  • 65
    I dread buffets, since I have limited self-control. But my husband and his family adore them, so I often have to deal with them. I always try to start with a big salad and then choose a lighter-looking entre. The sweets/desserts are my downfall - but I usually make up for the over-indulgence over the course of the next week. I also don't frequent buffets, so I can get away with it the once every other month or so that I do end up in one. I also try to get over the whole "get your money's worth" thing, and instead think about I'm paying for food that I WANT, not food that's the best bang for my buck that'll just make me feel aweful later. - 1/12/2010   8:17:53 AM
  • 64
    We used to visit Souplantation a lot - the kids adored it and if you stuck to salad (meaning not the prepared soups, pastas, and salads, and desserts) it was great. But I'm glad we fell out of that habit (and moved away from the area) - too much processed food in the prepared food section, and like most chains/franchises, I don't think they pay enough attention to sourcing local, organic, ethically raised ingredients. - 1/12/2010   6:24:29 AM
  • 63
    We are big fans of Golden Corral, because it has something for everyone. I always start with a salad, skipping the fattening toppings and putting my dressing on the side (I do the old stick the fork in the dressing thing). By the time I'm done with my salad, I'm not as hungry. My biggest downfall is their rolls, but now they've come out with some whole grain options that are healthier. - 1/12/2010   5:10:02 AM
  • 62
    Use to have a GC in our area, and then it was closed down. Wish they would re-opened it again. - 1/12/2010   2:57:18 AM
  • 61
    Closest one to me is 200 miles away. I will NOT drive that far for a fast food meal - 1/12/2010   2:29:21 AM
  • 60
    Conciedering how my husband loves those "Butt-fet" stype resterants, I will definatly use tihs tid-bit ;) - 1/12/2010   2:09:04 AM
  • BSWEET101
    59
    LOL! We went to Golden Corral the week after Christmas, and I think I did a pretty good job of making healthier choices, though I still ate way too much. I was disappointed with the list above not including one of my favorite items, though ... the mushrooms (not sure how they're prepared, but I probably ate several cups of them). - 1/12/2010   1:22:27 AM
  • 58
    We ate at Golden Corral just the other night. Wish I had seen this then. However, one of my favorites made the list: Awesome Pot Roast. MMM...MMM...GOOD! - 1/12/2010   12:44:49 AM
  • 57
    My daughter loves Golden Corral, so we go there occasionally. I have learned to do so much better the last couple of years and can actually eat there now without going over my calorie limit. - 1/12/2010   12:19:54 AM
  • MARLENEAKAMEME
    56
    Love it... Great Info - 1/12/2010   12:11:12 AM
  • 55
    Thanks. This was extremely helpful. Now I feel I can go to Golden Corral and not overeat. - 1/11/2010   11:55:17 PM
  • 54
    I agree with several of you.....buffets are just too much of a challenge. And even though I've been a vegetarian (now I eat occasional fish), even vegetarians can overeat cakes, cookies, ice cream, fried foods.......Gotta stick with entree choices at sit-down restaurant--for the rare times I DO go out to eat.
    Sue/IL - 1/11/2010   10:13:37 PM
  • 53
    we have a similiar place called Ryan's. you can stay within boundaries with the grilled and baked choices. they also include sugar free desserts - 1/11/2010   9:42:26 PM
  • 52
    The truth is, I love buffets. As a vegetarian, I always have lots of options at places like Golden Corral. Unfortunately, though, I always overeat at a buffet no matter how much willpower and positive self-talk I do on my way into the restaurant. I do try to fill up on vegetables at the salad bar, avoiding the pasta salads, diced eggs, cheese, and other higher-calorie salad bar items, and I limit my salad dressing to 1 to 2 TBS of light Italian. That's something I do well! What I don't do so well is limit desserts. Bread pudding, cheesecake, fudge brownies, ice cream... it all looks so good that I have a hard time saying "NO!" to myself. :) - 1/11/2010   8:17:59 PM
  • 51
    I eat there about once a week, and they do have so many good choices. - 1/11/2010   7:56:36 PM
  • 50
    As a vegetarian ( with very limited eggs and dairy), I love Golden Corral, because most nights they have EIGHT different hot veggies on the bar, plus all of the fresh veggies for salads. I never have any trouble filling up on all the great plant food they have to offer! - 1/11/2010   6:13:09 PM
  • MAVY135
    49
    boy is this helpful. - 1/11/2010   4:52:49 PM
  • 48
    Oh la! GC is my husband's favorite eatery and I always groan when he suggests going there. Now I can go armed and defended and have a good time. THANKS for the calorie counts. - 1/11/2010   4:41:15 PM
  • LIVINGONMYTERMS
    47
    umm..........haven't been to GC in years. - 1/11/2010   4:32:44 PM
  • 46
    I like the Golden Corral. There really is a great selection of healthy foods to choose from. I just have to go in with the right frame of mind and stick to the plan! - 1/11/2010   4:19:27 PM
  • AJCOELHO
    45
    No Golden Corral where I live. Good info on buffets. - 1/11/2010   4:17:15 PM
  • 44
    In my neighborhood we have "Olde Country Buffet" which as far as I can tell is the same as "Golden Corral." They have a lunch special that is salad bar only for $4.99. They have hard boiled eggs and beans of various kinds for protein. They have fruit for dessert and of course lots of veggies. I do splurge on diet soda which I don't drink much of generally. It keeps me from all the fried food. The only possible pitfall is the taco bar. I tend to put down a bed of greens and then about a quarter cup of taco meat, salsa. It's the one place to limit. I really don't have the control for the full options. - 1/11/2010   3:53:27 PM
  • HHI0901
    43
    Ugh, not a fan of Golden Corral, but definitely useful stuff for other places there are buffets - family parties, weddings, etc... - 1/11/2010   3:34:00 PM
  • DEBRICH91252
    42
    I love Golden Corral. This is very helpful information. Now I will go more often. - 1/11/2010   3:26:30 PM
  • MISSWASHUU
    41
    Thank you so much for this one. Golden Corral has started upping the ads in my area and I like to keep my options open for staff parties/special events with friends and family (applebees is getting redundant). This shows me the options available and opens up the possibilities! Thanks again! - 1/11/2010   3:26:10 PM
  • 40
    I have never heard of The Golden Corral or Applewood Grill. I can though take the suggestions and use them in other buffet restaurants. - 1/11/2010   3:26:05 PM
  • BIGALOW95
    39
    Thanks - 1/11/2010   2:40:18 PM
  • 38
    This was very helpful information :) - 1/11/2010   2:05:59 PM
  • 37
    I know that I've SEEN a Golden Corral restaurant SOMEWHERE, but have no idea if there is one anywhere near me (I know there is not one in my town). I'll look it up, since this article points out the healthy possibilities. - 1/11/2010   1:59:46 PM
  • 36
    On my first trip to Golden Corral, I amazed myself with my self-restraint. I started with salad greens, heavy on the spinach, with blue cheese crumbles and red wine vinegar as my dressing; a piece of baked fish; a small piece of roasted beef; steamed broccoli; and yes, a small dessert (something chocolate). I did go back up to the "trough" for some more veggies and a small piece of fish. I had to talk to myself the whole time, to remind myself that I did not need to get any rice, beans, the gooey salad toppings, and no, I didn't need another dessert! - 1/11/2010   1:29:23 PM
  • 35
    Great I love going to golden corral - 1/11/2010   1:27:23 PM
  • NJ_HOU
    34
    I have always avoided Golden Corral when we go out as a team at lunch. I incorrectly thought only carb people and regulars could eat there. Thank you for the tips! I have a whole new view of Golden Corral ! - 1/11/2010   1:05:52 PM
  • 33
    thanks - 1/11/2010   12:58:45 PM
  • 32
    Golden Corral is not in our area, however I love a good buffet because there are a lot of healthy choices to be had.
    True you do have to be a little picky about making your choices, however the food is prepared and served in a clean and healthy way.
    I feel you do have to be in control of your eating habits before you can go to any dining establishment because they are there to serve their customers.
    That is where self control comes into play. I find I make healthy choices and can have a wonderful meal and I never go over my calorie range for the day.
    Thank you for this review as I find it helpful and it educational to those of us who enjoy a good buffet. - 1/11/2010   12:44:51 PM
  • 31
    I'm so happy to see healthy options for golden corral here. I'm moving to TX soon and I will inevitably end up at this restaurant with my husband and two little ones. I'm really trying hard to get in the frame of mind that healthy, good for me food is the food that I really want to eat! - 1/11/2010   12:32:59 PM
  • 30
    Not the biggest fan of buffets. Good advice. - 1/11/2010   12:16:53 PM
  • RETURNTOSLENDER
    29
    It's a powerful feeling to know that you can combine the fun of eating out with the joy of knowing you can make good choices and still achieve success! - 1/11/2010   12:10:30 PM
  • 28
    remember to focus on a complete meal instead of getting your money's worth

    especially in today's economy when eating out is a luxery, I have a HARD TIME getting out of the "get your money's worth" mindset. So I try to steer the choices away from buffets. - 1/11/2010   11:50:58 AM
  • 27
    I think it would also be helpful to have a picture of what a one-serving size looks like on the buffet's plate. Some of us are terrible at remembering the fist/deck of cards/pair of dice rules! LOL Thanks for the post. - 1/11/2010   11:15:18 AM
  • 26
    I huge help when eating out!!! THANKX - 1/11/2010   11:05:40 AM
  • 25
    good stuff - 1/11/2010   10:57:58 AM
  • KWALLAHBEAR
    24
    Buffet's are good for one thing: salad bar variety. Other than that, I feel disgusting going to one- it literally is a feeding trough, with people stuffing their faces into oblivion. I wish more people would learn to appreciate good food, and not eating tons of cheap, fatty food which hurts our bodies and wallets in the long run. - 1/11/2010   10:57:47 AM
  • 23
    Thank you for the information! I am new to SPARK and don't feel that I have the "tools" to tackle a buffet. I do feel that my stomach is starting to shrink and that going to an all you can eat buffet would not only be a huge temptation, but a waste of money because I wouldn't get my monies worth. - 1/11/2010   10:40:24 AM
  • 22
    I did not know Golden Corral had nutritional facts on thrie site. I am not ready to face a buffet-still to tempting. - 1/11/2010   10:24:09 AM
  • 21
    I wish Spark would do a review of the Cracker Barrel Restaurants. I love that place but would like to know which entrees are the healthier choices. - 1/11/2010   9:59:19 AM
  • METIMEISNOW
    20
    This is good to know - my husband loves to go their to eat ($$$) but both of us have the issue of "sampling" everything..... which is not good.

    I am going to share this post with my husband so he can help me (and himself) with portion control... - 1/11/2010   9:52:09 AM
  • 19
    My family loves the Golden Corral but I try to stay away because most of the time I don't win the battle either. Now I know what I can eat when ever I get voted out about going to the Golden Corral. - 1/11/2010   9:48:35 AM
  • 18
    Believe it or not, I actually like the buffets when I am in the city because they are one of the few places that serves a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. First I check out the whole place and make my decisions before I get a plate.

    I start with a tossed salad with a very small portion of dressing and lots of raw veggies (avoiding the high calorie/fat options). Drink is water or unsweetened tea. My entree is a small serving of grilled chicken (or shrimp if I get lucky) and a couple of sides of cooked veggies (green beans, broccoli). Dessert is fresh fruit. I usually do choose one very small serving of a splurge item, such as one cookie. You can't get that at any fast food place.

    I generally avoid anything fried, anything sitting in "butter" sauce, creamy/cheesy sides, large breads/cakes/cookies, potatoes (because of the toppings) and high fat toppings (sour cream, butter, dressing). - 1/11/2010   9:43:48 AM
  • 17
    Like a pp said, buffets are hard for me to deal with. I lose every time, too! I will just stay away from them until I get far enough along (mentally) to resist. But this is great info to help out if I decide to go some day! - 1/11/2010   9:41:53 AM
  • 16
    I've been avoiding the all you can eat buffets, but this will be useful for when I find I'm in a place I can go back to one and not overeat. - 1/11/2010   9:40:26 AM

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