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How refills Sabotage Your Weight Loss

Reviewed by Kimberly Cabe, FNP-BC of Forum Health Rochester Hills

Unlimited refills. Bottomless bowls. All you can eat buffet lines. Each of these things are common in our American culture. In fact, the concept of a refill is so basic that many people are surprised when refills aren’t allowed. Whether you are getting a soda, a coffee or an oversized plate of food, we are happy when we learn we can go back for more, but what we might consider a good bargain for our wallet is not necessarily true for our health.


While you are focusing on medical weight loss, it will be in your best interest to avoid refills. Refills make it more difficult to count calories, ultimately blurring the line between portion sizes to an even greater degree.


Refills are fundamentally problematic. Portion sizes are already out of control. Most fast food restaurants serve sodas that are twice if not three times the size of a proper portion. The chips and bread we are served when waiting for our meals at restaurants are already divvied up in servings that are too large. But somehow one oversized portion isn’t enough—more keeps coming!


Even if you start out with a proper portion size, just one refill on an item can double your intake. Yet when we sit down at the end of the day and think about what we had to eat and drink, most people will think of the soda they had with dinner, not the seven sodas they had after all the refills were counted up.


When you are out to eat, try avoiding refills by having a strategy in place. Here are a few tips:

  • Your best bet is to not drink soda at all. The drink is loaded with sugar and bad for your health. If you are going to have soda, tell your server you only want one glass and that you will switch to water after that.
  • Use a plate when eating bread or chips. Again, you should try to refrain from eating these items at all, but by putting just one portion on your plate and leaving your snacking to that you can prevent refill confusion.
  • Just have one plate. If you are at a buffet, there is no reason to go through multiple plates. Put your entire meal on one plate and take your time eating it. You can also ask your server if there are any non-buffet items on the menu that you can try instead.


Refills are tricky business. While eating out your server will pop by your table and swap out an almost empty glass of soda for a new cup of sugar fizzing to the brim. As you talk with your friends mindlessly at a Mexican restaurant, you might go through two or three baskets of tortilla chips. When at the buffet line it seems normal to take a small portion of everything you see, and then go back for more of what you didn’t try on your first trip. Keeping the above tips in mind can help you stay in control of your diet.