Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aha! Unlimited Salad Bar and Breadsticks

Or two . . . . 
Does the title of this post sound familiar? It is the catch phrase that brought my family into Olive Garden for a meal in 1992 and kept us coming back for over 10 years. Unlimited was a happy word in our dining vocabulary. It was right up there with all-u-can-eat and buffet. 

My husband is Italian and I learned to properly cook all the traditional family dishes from his Grandma Bea. Our experience is only rarely have we found a restaurant that could hope to equal the homemade Italian dishes we know and love to overeat. Certainly a chain restaurant, where the employees cannot pronounce bruschetta, let alone prepare it properly, did not have a chance of garnering our family dining dollars.

Why did we keep going back? Unlimited salad bowl and breadsticks! I always liked eating salad but I did not like to make salads. Anytime we ate out, I liked to have salad - along with appetizer, entree and dessert , of course. And fresh baked bread . . .nomnomnom. . . . The aroma, the feel, the taste: unlimited salad bowl and breadsticks was a draw.

Then one day I learned how many calories were in that salad and breadsticks. I calculated how much I usually ate in a visit. That knowledge pretty much ended the Olive Garden visits for my family. Once I accepted that I was consuming a meal before I ordered my appetizers or entree I realized there was no reason to keep going there: the food itself was not worth it.

This did not stop me from overeating elsewhere but it planted a very small, very important seed. I started thinking about quantity, quality and calories. It did not keep me from buying half gallons of ice cream on sale as opposed to a single serving half cup but it got me out of bread and pasta buffets.  Refraining from things like ice cream sales and taking home leftovers from a party took other aha moments.

Sometimes a pat on the head will garner my attention and sometimes I need to be hit in the head more than once before a lesson is absorbed and put to good use. What is important in keeping the pounds off is to remain open to those aha moments because they make the difference between maintaining the loss and gaining back weight.

Jane~

11 comments:

Lauren said...

I just want to point out - ever since we stopped going, their entrees have gotten SO MUCH WEIRDER. It's like here's this Italian dish - NOWADDBACONANDSAUSAGEANDSTUFFITWITHCHEESE. It's like they're trying to call us back. I ain't pickin up.

Jane Cartelli said...

Like your comment very much!

Maren said...

Ahh.. one of my bad places was an "all you can eat pizza buffet". Seriously, as much pizza as you could possibly eat, and free coke, for $10. Sigh!

Becca said...

Yep, the OG was one of those places I swore off the day I decided to research the nutrition facts of our frequently visited restaurants. The food isn't worth the calorie intake, and the low cal dishes aren't worth paying for. I do miss those breadsticks...but not enough to go back after "seeing the light".

Great post! thanks!!

Edit to add: My comment verification word is "fatrant"...bwahahahahaha!

Caron said...

This brings back memories of our many meals at the buffet restaurants like Ryan's and Quincy's. The food wasn't even that good but by gum we could eat until we were about to explode for one low price. Sad, huh? The yeast rolls were the only thing I remember being really tasty and they were very yummy. Would I go back? Nope.

Sheri - The Motivational Girl said...

I love this post! So true! I avoid salads with mixed dressing and bread now.

It amazes me what things we use to be "healthy" for us, but are truly not due to the added dressings and bread.

Vickie said...

That was one of the favorite places my 'women who like to eat' used to frequent. this was a group that used to gather and eat once a month. Honestly, I would have been able to make good choices with them (or just eat before hand and then gab and drink water), but I got to the point where I could not stand to watch them shovel it in. . .

Fatoutofskinny said...

I very rarely go to OG, but when I do I always ask for the salad without the dressing, they used to tell me they couldn't do it, but yes they can because that's how the salad is in the To Go menu....dressing on the side!

Jane Cartelli said...

Maren - we also have a place that is $4.99 - all the pizza and dessert pizza you can eat. Drinks are like 99 cents. I have not been there in 6 or 7 years but they are still in business anyway. LOL

Becca - Your verification word is a riot! Best one yet.

Caron - I remember those yeast rolls. Just remembering them makes me feel like I am puffing up. I do not remember the food there - only the rolls.

Sheri - lettuce was always a vehicle by which creamy salad dressings could get to my mouth without remorse because I was eating salad. . . . . I had a fattiest salads you ever saw!

Vicki - my husband had a friend who is NOT obese but suffers from congestive heart failure and diabetes. We no longer eat out with him and his wife because he always choses the food that is killing him and I can no longer watch. - OKay, he is also politically incorrect and uses too much sexual innuendo in his conversations - maybe food was not the only reason I stopped eating with him.

Fatoutofskinny - You can absolutely get the salad w.o the dressing. If I had no choice but to eat at OG I could have the salad sans dressing and smack people over the head with the bread sticks.

Jane~

Munchberry said...

Every time someone suggests filling up on a salad before a meal I roll my eyes. Even when I use lo cal dressing the calories add up. In a resto they are deadly.

Jane Cartelli said...

Munchie - I've learned to eat salads w/o dressing. I do not do it all the time but it is now my common practice anytime I eat out.