All you can eat buffetWhile on vacation last week, my family ventured to an all-you-can-eat buffet. The woman we rented our vacation house from described the restaurant as a "local landmark." And indeed it was something to behold -- seating for over 1,200 people and 200 feet of "deliciously authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking."

Everywhere you looked there was food and fat. Fat in the food and fat people eating the food. For $14 you could eat and eat AND EAT and plenty of folks around us seemed to be taking full advantage.

But what made me really sick was this pricing policy on the menu board:

Gastric Bypass Surgery Policy
  Year #1 - 50% off base price.
  Year #2 - 10% off base price.
  Year #3 - 0% off base price.
To receive the reduced price you must provide Photo ID & Gastric Bypass Card!
Card must include, Patient Name, Date Of Original Surgery & Doctors Signature.
Without complete documentation on Gastric Bypass Card 0% off base price.

Note this policy is intended as a short-term price adjustment to accommodate a person whose intake is limited due to gastric bypass surgery.

Forgive me, but I'm going to go all judgmental on you here for a moment. But, if you just had gastric bypass surgery, should you really be hanging out at the ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT smorgasbord? Isn't that like an alcoholic hanging out at the brewery? Isn't this kind of food, in this kind of quantity, the polar opposite of what you should be eating?

It's almost as if this restaurant is offering a reward for obesity. Or, perhaps the discount is simply their way of apologizing for getting their patrons to the point of needing weight loss surgery in the first place. Either way, this backwards policy is another reminder of what's so wrong with the health of so many people in our country. There is no "Healthy Lifestyle Policy" pricing for those who only want to eat a moderate amount of food at the buffet. Just like my insurance company will pay for me to have gastric bypass surgery and go on diabetes medication, but won't pay for my gym membership.  

I wonder when we as a country will say "enough is enough" and demand that our government, our employers, our health insurance companies, our schools, our restaurants, our friends, and our families begin to change the course of our collective health. I want to be healthier and I'm pretty sure the diners at the buffet want to be healthier, too. But, it's really hard to change bad habits when they are reinforced and rewarded everywhere we go.


Photo via basykes/Flickr