Fighting Instinct


I was asked to speak at a luncheon recently, held at an “all you can eat” buffet. The organizers had no idea what they were doing to me.

Every animal has instincts, and in my family, our instinct is to take “all you can eat” literally. We have put restaurants out of business. Store owners post lookouts on the corners to watch for us. We are like locusts swarming on a fertile field of corn.

In this case, however, I had to fight instinct, mostly because I was wearing a tie and barbecue sauce looks bad on a white shirt. Since the talk was after lunch, I had to maintain my composure.

They invited me to grab some lunch before the presentation, so plate in hand I strolled over to the line.

It was like offering water to a man dying of thirst.

It was like offering a cigarette to a chain smoker who is trying to quit.

It was like offering candy to a baby.

It was like offering food to a glutton.

….wait…scratch the last one.

It is no small coincidence that the times in my life I added the most poundage were when I was stationed on a carrier (24-hour dirty shirt chow line – all you can eat), or when I was stationed near a local buffet (“Number One China Buffet”, Norfolk, Virginia).

But this day I was in control of my instincts. I picked up a few small samples and returned to my seat, ate, and gave my talk. Not one barbecue stain.

And you know what? I left satisfied.

Full? No.
Satiated? Not in the least.

But I learned something. You can control your urges if you have the willpower. You can eat small portions. You don’t have to have seconds, even if they are free.

I learned something else.

They don’t post lookouts.


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