“Lunch called and wants you to come back for dinner!” – post from the Souplantation’s Facebook page
Last Saturday night I had an epiphany at the Souplantation. It was a “Soupiphany” and it changed my life.
I became a Jedi.
(Keep in mind I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies so I don’t know what I’m talking about.)
As I’ve written about ad nauseum, I joined GraySheeters Anonymous (GSA), a 12-step program that requires members to weigh and measure (W&M) their food.
At all times. Including in restaurants. On dates. At business lunches.
Yeah, I have feelings about that.
Trust me, I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t desperate. GSA members are extremely nice … but I can’t help think they’ve just traded in one form of insanity for another.
But I’ve been binging my brains out for ten months, so when it comes to food, I don’t – as my grandma would say – “have a pot to piss in.”
Although I bought a kick-ass, space-age-looking digital scale, my public W&M attempts have been disastrous.
First you have to have enough (literal) elbow room at the table to finagle the plates already filled with food, extra plate to measure the food, and digital scale. Then you have to have adequate lighting to see the little scale numbers. And then – this is the most difficult part – you need enough frickin’ food.
That’s a lotta lettuce.
GSA members are required to eat all of their meals, down to the last literal ounce, or you go back to Day 1.
Twelve ounces of raw vegetables, which is my current dinner amount, is a shitload of vegetables.
Experienced GSA members bring “full backup” (otherwise known as a “hostage meal”) to restaurants in order to meet the required amounts without acquiring a $100 dinner bill.
I figured practice would make perfect.
I organized a Saturday night group dinner at the Souplantation, an all-you-can-eat buffet place known for its abundant salad bar. I figured it would be the perfect W&M opportunity.
Not being a frequent Souplantation diner, I arranged for everyone to meet at 5:30 pm.
Turns out this was a bad idea. 5:30 pm at the ‘Plantation is the restaurant equivalent of Costco on a Sunday afternoon. The place was jam-packed, stuffed door-to-door with large families, slow-moving senior citizens, and screaming children.
My group found a small table, which we huddled around, hunched over our over-sized plates, elbows brushing with each bite.
So far so good.
I was okay at this point because I’d weighed my vegetables in the salad bar line with no problem. I noticed there wasn’t any protein but, seeing about three other food stations, I wasn’t worried about it.
Things started to go bad when I went to look for protein.
To assume makes an ass out of you and me.
I had assumed the ‘Plantation would have everything I needed, food-wise. I had assumed they’d have a wide variety of high-quality proteins from which to choose.
Where’s the beef? Chicken, perhaps? Tuna, even?
Now, of course, it all makes sense.
The Souplantation is in the business of making money. There is no way they could afford to stock fresh chicken, beef, salmon, or even tuna and not go bankrupt considering the volume of food they serve to the unwashed masses.
So when it comes to protein, the ‘Plantation goes cheap: crumbled hard-boiled eggs, shredded cheese, kidney beans and, that particular night at least, a “sausage and kale” soup with nary a sausage in sight.
I made an executive decision.
I had a bowl of chili with cheese as my protein. The cheese part was fine but chili is not allowed on the GSA food plan.
I ate it, knowing it was the best option under the circumstances and also knowing I would have to go back to Day 1.
This is what’s goin’ on.
Now normally “Day 1” translates to “License to Binge.” I fill a shopping bag full of food I am never going to eat again and I go full Marvin Gaye and get it on.
And here, I am, at the Souplantation, the Holy Grail of Binge restaurants, with an already-paid-for meal that entitled me to unlimited amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
And this is the part where I had my Soupiphany.
I made the decision that I would not binge.
No matter how many times I have to go back to Day 1 over stupid shit like missing .08 ounces of salad dressing, I would not binge.
I would not:
- Tell my friends to go ahead without me while I stayed back and spent the next hour shoveling little soft-swirl ice-cream cones into my mouth.
- Hit Trader Joe’s on the way home, buy a bag filled with cheery packaged food and eat until 2:00 am while watching “This is Me” on my iPhone.
- Spend the next two days of my life in pain on the bathroom floor, canceling every single social plan along the way.
- Possibly call in sick Monday morning – again.
And then a thought came out of nowhere. It was my Soupiphany:
“I have suffered enough.”
I realized that only I could stop my suffering. That it was my job to take care of myself: not my sponsor’s, not GSA’s, and certainly not the Souplantation.
My sponsor, in fact, had told me to bring backup, a suggestion I promptly ignored (we’ll talk about “my better ideas” another time.) So the fact that I was sitting there eating chili and miserable was my own damn fault.
In that moment, I became responsible and that turned me into a Jedi.
Whatever that means.
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