First off let me say that not everyone was made for buffets. Some people, despite labeling themselves as "big eaters", are not big eaters. However, this should not deter people from going to buffets and trying to find what techniques work for them. This entry is only to discuss what techniques work for me. In the world of eating Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi are like the Scot Kazmeier and Pudzinowski of strongmen.
How do I prepare myself for a buffet? Before, I would eat rather small meals and then not eat anything at least three hours prior to the event. However, I have found a technique that is quite effective. For the past two or three weeks I've been eating a very calorie-light breakfast OR something that works wonder is drinking a whey protein shake for breakfast and having another one after you workout. Then I fast for the rest of the day until the AYCE dinner comes.
Other people may say that they've read that this method is ineffective. Not for me. Let me tell you, when I do this I feel none of the pain I normally would have from eating too much. I've obliterated through several plates of food with no overly full sensation at all. One night, when the dinner outing that night was canceled, I made myself over 2 lbs. of beef and ripped my way through various cereals, veggies, nuts, etc. and I was still hungry. The only thing that stops me now at buffets is the feeling of food coming up my throat. That is to say, food comes up the same way it went down. As in it hasn't stayed in my body for more than 5 minutes.
Now let's discuss how to attack a buffet. Some people still foolishly decide to pick the things they "like" even if what they like is a plateful of noodles that would cost $3 elesewhere and they're paying $10 - 15 here. Unless you're a heavy eater (like me) you cannot go in with reckless abandon. if the buffet you're at is an Asian buffet, you might consider attacking the sushi first. If they offer sashimi, score, if they offer only rolls and nigiri be careful. Sushi rice can weigh down on your stomach worse than regular fried rice. Meats are relatively heavy compared to everything else; chicken and beef tend sink to the bottom and have an immediate effect. This is why you'll see many people at Asian buffets go for the seafood, especially the Asian people. Crab legs and crawfish require a lot of work to get to the meat. Once you get to the meat, it isn't that heavy. Having to work for a relatively light meat means that you can extend your stay at a buffet for a half hour or more. What I usually find is that A LITTLE BIT of rice or noodles are preferable to meats. Like I said before, meats are heavy and they hit the stomach quickly. Veggies are a good choice, but watch out...the fiber may make you feel fuller than you really are. Fried foods are heavy and leave you feeling dirty afterward, so maybe you should get them on your 3rd or 4th plate. Desserts are easy to nibble on as most places serve either fruit or soft serve. Baked goods are generally not well done, unless you're in Vegas, so I prefer soft serve if it's available.
I may make another post regarding AYCE and buffet joints, I'm not sure. If an idea comes to my mind, I'll make sure to post it.