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.
Photo by Flickr user matrianklw (via Creative Commons)