Potluck survival guide


We’ve all been there. The long table, festive in its red and white checkered cloth, is set.  Your eyes widen as you scan the bounty: casseroles (some identifiable; others, not-so-much), biscuits and fried chicken, and there at the end of the table, under a seemingly glowing white light, sits Aunt Carrie’s infamous coconut cake.  Your stomach tells you to load up a plate, but your brain says, “Wait just a minute.”

Below are some tips we’ve compiled from pastors, staff, and other resources to help you navigate your next church potluck:

  • Bring a healthy dish of your own to share with others and to enjoy yourself.
  • Don’t hang around the food table or sit near the food.
  • Focus on mingling and socializing.  Don’t sit at the same table the entire time while people keep sitting down with plates and plates of food. Mingle, mingle, mingle! Keep moving!
  • Carry around a glass of water with a fruit slice in it, or other low- or no-cal beverage, and sip it as you mingle. A straw or swizzle stick will keep both hands busy – sip and swizzle!
  • Eat before you go to a potluck; fill up on healthy foods at home or take a healthy snack to eat before getting to the meal.  If you can’t do that, then have a big glass of water (at least 8 oz) or H2 Orange a little while before going to the meal.
  • Take a walk all the way through the line before putting anything on your plate.  Then go back and select what looks most appealing.
  • Use a salad or dessert plate if they’re available to help you control portion sizes.
  • Be the last in line; once some of the items have been picked through (or even finished off), they won’t look as appetizing.
  • When at a buffet, select three things for your plate: one thing you really want and two healthier options.  It keeps you from overeating because you are not ping-ponging between flavors.
  • Try the 3-bite rule: take 3 bites of something you’ve put on your plate; if you don’t love it, stop eating it; it’s not worth the calories.
  • Once you’ve had your fill, pop in a piece of gum or breath mint.
  • Don’t drink your calories- drink water or unsweetened tea; take a Crystal Light or other drink flavor packet to add to water if you don’t enjoy water by itself.

And what about some of those other situations that make maintaining a healthy lifestyle difficult?  Check out the Harvard Magazine’s tips for eating on the run, like when you have a long day of meetings or hospital visits.

For trips to Annual Conference or even while on vacation, here are some tips for staying healthy when you’re away from home overnight.  I love the idea of a travel checklist and a first aid food kit.

Let us know your favorite tricks for handling these challenging situations.

-Katie Huffman

Photo by Flickr user matrianklw (via Creative Commons)

sources: Huffington Post, Epicurious, National Diabetes Education Program

This entry was posted in Healthy Eating, Physical Health, Tips & Tools and tagged by Katie Huffman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Katie Huffman

Katie is a Wellness Advocate with the Clergy Health Initiative. She has an undergraduate degree in History and French and a Masters degree in Gerontology; prior to her current position, Katie worked as a social worker in a retirement community in Chapel Hill. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors, baking, and hanging out with her husband, Noah, their daughter, Ada, and two kitties, Grady and Gracie.

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