The all-you-can-eat-buffet binge hangover scenario.
The one where you wake up face down in the carpet asking, “What the hell happened last night, and why am I holding a half eaten turkey leg?”
I tried to focus on the light coming in from the hallway that was flooding in from under the crack at the bottom of the door.
I blinked my eyes a few times to bring everything into focus.
I had been awoken by the hum of a vacuum cleaner and with a strange taste in my mouth.
The room was dark, and my head was spinning.
I sat up and looked around, and I noticed that there were a handful of tiny hotel soaps scattered about.
I was alone. Thank goodness.
I’ve seen enough movies to know that I could have woken up to any number of embarrassing predicaments, including a most regrettable encounter with an angry monkey in the bathroom wearing a shower cap and pelting me with hotel soaps.
I checked the bathroom. No monkey, but the soap said Caesars Palace…
The buffet. I remember a buffet.
I wiped my face.
Was that blood? Oh my gawd, was I bleeding?
Nope. It tasted like barbecue sauce.
What the hell had happened last night?
One minute you’re having a few cocktails, and headed to an all you can eat buffet, and the next….you’re waking up from a all night binge covered in hot mustard, with indigestion and a death grip on giant turkey leg.
The last thing you may remember was trying to plot out your strategy, to decide if you needed one plate or two, and figure out if you could discreetly tuck the extra pork chop under your arm while you put the gravy on your mashed potatoes….
Allow me to explain.
I love food.
I love everything about food. The way it looks, the way it smells, and especially the way it tastes.
Food can be like art, organic chemistry and raw beauty when it’s when its finessed properly, and I have a high appreciation for that process.
I would definitely consider myself a Foodie, in the sense that I have always been very adventurous with cuisine, and enjoy experiencing other cultures through their distinctive flavors and culinary fare.
I have a true appreciation for the culinary arts, but…
Sometimes the primal hunger kicks in and I have to fight the urge to inhale everything in front of me.
And as a result, I have always been more of a “live to eat”, than an “eat to live” type. But a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes had changed all that.
Life before diabetes had allowed me to eat for pleasure, and without hesitation. I would order whatever looked good, whatever I wanted, and whatever struck my fancy. It was more about the adventure and experience of the food.
But life afterwards? Afterwards, I had to learn and master the art of mindful eating, and my relationship with food was forever changed. Which to me, at the time, was a serious blow. It seemed tedious, and boring, and almost medicinal…and like all of the flavor had been sucked out of my future culinary adventures.
Food became a complex thing to manage, and for a while, I felt the loss of its joy and comfort.
Being a good diabetic can be like having a second full time job. It’s a lot to take in and deal with. It’s basically a whole new way of life, and it was definitely not an easy transition.
How many carbs does it have? How much sugar? How much whole grain? Is it high enough in good fats and low enough in saturated fats? Yadda yadda yadda.
I felt like the buzz kill at my own soiree.
So, there I was, six months after my 40th birthday…after becoming a carb counting, insulin injecting, glucose monitoring, Splenda consuming diabetic…
And I was burned out. I was weary of mind and done with the day in day out drudgery of dining a la Diabetes. I was overwhelmed, and waxing nostalgic for the carefree days of yore.
And since it also happened to be the 40th birthday year of another dear friend of my it seemed like an opportune time to escape. So I decided that a girls trip to Vegas was in order. I was ready for a break, and ready to go have some fun and get my grub on.
So I grabbed all of my girlfriends, and off we went to Sin City.
But the reality is, that you can’t always leave reality behind, because it follows you wherever you go…even to Las Vegas.
I now regret that I spent the entirety of that trip avoiding the cameras, eluding social media tags and hyper focusing on my medical limitations, as well as having a bit of an emotional meltdown on the last day in regards to some friendly requests to post candid photos that I did not find flattering. Something was bound to give, and to this day I’m glad that all my wonderful friends from that trip are still speaking to me.
Now, with that said, there’s still a whole lot of fun stuff to do in Las Vegas, and everyone has different activities that they look forward to. And as it so happens, I do have a bit of a weakness for a certain Wheel of Fortune slot machine, and at least one night hitting up a comedy club is always something on my list.
We saw Blue Man Group, went to a wax museum, and thoroughly explored many of the themed hotels.
But I have to admit, at the time, I was a lot less concerned with what was on our agenda, and a little more interested in what was on the menu. Because for the most part, my desire to let loose in Las Vegas on that particular occasion was to give the middle finger to my “designated meal plan” and eat my way from one end of the strip to the other.
And there were certainly a lot of interesting things on our docket, but no matter where we ended up each day, all the while, I was still thinking-
What are we gonna eat?
When are we gonna eat?
Where are we gonna eat?
It was all I could think about.
There are so many amazing restaurants in Las Vegas. Gordon Ramsay (my secret boyfriend), Wolfgang Puck, Guy Fieri, Giada, Bobby Flay… the list is endless. Places that when you live in a small town you don’t normally get to enjoy, with James Beard awards and Michelin stars.
But when you’re on a budget, you invariably end up at some point, at a bar, without your willpower, at an all you can eat buffet. And that buffet can be the gateway to a feast of frenzy for any food aficionado. Because although there are no James Beard awards to be found, the food is plentiful, endless and delicious.
And its one of the many reasons why it’s so easy to over do it in places like Las Vegas. It is a place of excess. And clearly, in order to get to where I was (a nearly 300 pound formerly chain smoking diabetic), I was not an expert at navigating such things.
Because sometimes you know you should stop… you want to be able to stop…but you can’t. So, you invariably lean into the slide instead of tapping the brakes.
And after a while, you find yourself repeating behaviors that you know will inevitably lead you down a road to ruin, right past Regretsville, and all the way to Shametown. (the first two pit stops on the road to Guiltopolis)
Enter the aforementioned gluttonous buffet of ill repute, and that is how we end up back to the beginning where this all started.
Back to that nightmare scenario that may result, when you allow something you struggle with to overpower you, and soon it becomes stronger than you are.
We all have something.
Something that has power over us, something that we struggle with on a daily basis to stay in control of. An addiction, or a particular vice. Maybe it’s our anger, or cigarettes, or alcohol, or gambling.
But for me? For me, it was food.
It IS food.
Because it’s an ongoing struggle, and the key is to find a way to manage it.
Certain vices always have a way of popping back up when you’re vulnerable, and you have to remember that you can still be susceptible to their lure.
Taking control of those things is the only way to keep them in check.
And I learned over time, that by finding a new way to enjoy food (thank you Weight Watchers), I didn’t really miss the old way anymore.
I actually think I may be enjoying my food more now, than I ever have. The taste is more vibrant, the appreciation, more resonant, the experience, more satisfying. And clearly, there is still a desire to overdo it sometimes, too much of a good thing you know, and all that…
But for the most part, I trust myself again. I am confident that there is a balance between good for me and delicious.
And even though I haven’t been back to Las Vegas since that “Bacchanal Buffet” bender, I know that when I do, the story of what happens in Sin City next time, will definitely have a different ending, thanks to a little something I have since discovered called “Thunder From Down Under”.
Now granted, I am definitely a hard core Scottish lass at heart, and I usually prefer my Magic Mike-esque man dancing eye candy in a kilt, but…
Ladies? Who’s up for a girls trip to Vegas for my Bachelorette party next year?