I like food. Actually, I love food. And I reasoned that since I gave up all my youthful vices and indiscretions, I should at least be allowed to eat what I want and as much as I want.
Then I rediscovered buffet restaurants.
It wouldn’t have been a problem had I still been in the airborne infantry where I ran 5 miles a day and did eleventy-zillion pushups, situps and pullups throughout the day. I rediscovered buffet restaurants when I took the family to Myrtle Beach, S.C., after a 10-year remission from buffetosis. I recently had been medically retired by the Army for severe neck injuries. My activities and metabolism were not what they had been, but my appetite was the same. Trouble was brewing.
For those who’ve never visited the Palmetto State’s coast, the 50-mile strand of beaches along Highway 17 from Little River to Pawleys Island essentially is 50 miles of restaurants, many of them buffets. It’s the Las Vegas of the East for its sinfully tempting culinary delights. These restaurants feature fish, shrimp, oysters, clams, deviled crab and crab legs. The prime rib is not over-cooked, and other Southern staples like fried chicken and barbecue ribs are comparable to restaurants that specialize in them.
Long salad bars, an array of seasoned country vegetables and a wide selection of sugary desserts are found along the entire Grand Strand.
The words “all you can eat” appear so often, some buffetaholics don’t even notice the area also is known for a variety of entertainment venues, not to mention great beaches. After that visit, I found myself searching out restaurants that offer everything all at once on a buffet.
The prophetic words of my college weight-training instructor began to haunt me: “You’ve got to burn more calories than you consume, or the weight you’ll be pressing will be your own ”
As the pounds piled on, I tried avoiding breads, desserts and soft drinks. But I didn’t diet. I think fat is like matter, which cannot be created or destroyed. When one person loses a few pounds, those pounds act like exorcised demons who seek out and hop on someone else or return to their former victim.
I finally realized, though, I needed to cut back my daily food intake and increase my daily activities. I try to eat more fish and chicken and force myself to eat more “rabbit food.” I’ve also developed a new strategy for buffet restaurants. Now I limit myself to bi-monthly visits to Sybil’s in Jesup, B&J’s Seafood in Darien or The Lady & Sons in Savannah. I also limit myself to only two (or three) trips through the buffet line.
Between buffet months, I spend hours daydreaming about great buffet restaurants like the Farmer’s Market Restaurant in Thomasville, the Blue Willow in Social Circle, Captain George’s Seafood in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Bill Ellis’ BBQ in Wilson, N.C. I recall that so-and-so’s blackberry cobbler is too good, so when buffet month rolls around, I avoid that temptation by not going to that restaurant.
It takes discipline, but it’s easier than burning off the eleventy-zillion fat demons harboring where my abs used to be. I know I need to exercise (or exorcise) those pudgy devils away, so I try to walk whenever I can for as long as I’m able.
When I walk, I feel better, but as I shed a few pounds, I develop a craving for a particular buffet restaurant that comes to mind without an invitation. I know I’m not going to give up buffet restaurants any more than I’ll give up eating. My goals now are to increase my metabolism by walking, restrain my desire to eat more than I should and win the “battle of the bulge” at least to a point where I can see my feet again while standing in the buffet line.