So what is it with buffets and feeling full? Even if I don't pig out, I still feel very stuffed after enjoying food from fellowship hour.
Each year, our church hosts a birthday party in the winter. They put out tables in the Parish Hall decorated for the 12 months of the year, everyone brings food, and we just have a great time. It's a lot of fun. I made corn bread this year because my casserole came out awful. I forgot all about the recipe I've been saving for my next pot luck called Pot Luck Pleaser by Katy Joy Freeman, a raw food layered salad that looks so pretty people forget it's healthy and dig into it at the buffet table. I don't know what it is with buffets, but every time I eat at a church potluck, I feel so full I can barely move afterwards - and I didn't eat that much! I grabbed some of the pierogi dish which I love (whoever makes it, if you read this, I want that recipe!), one small spoonful of macaroni and cheese, and a little bit of vegetarian lasagna, and that was it. I had a cupcake for dessert. I was so full I felt like I could barely move the rest of the afternoon and even at dinner, I only had a little bits of vegetables and pasta. I just couldn't eat. I don't know what it is with church buffets, but do you notice this too? My plate wasn't even half full and I felt like I waddled out of there!
Growing up, my family was big on buffet tables for parties. A party thrown by my family usually includes a house bursting with company - and that's just immediate blood relatives. Friends and neighbors showing up find room to sit in the attic, on the basement stairs, or they just stand up and keep eating. Buffet tables are the only way to feed the masses.
I've learned a thing or two about navigating buffet tables and keeping to my diet, particularly a vegetarian diet. Now, I am not strict vegetarian - so a little bit of sausage that was in the piergi casserole was just fine with me. Despite feeling full, I think I did manage to navigate the table with healthy eating in mind.
Here are my tips for healthy eating at your next church or group potluck dinner
Take only a tiny bit from the dishes that appeal to you the most. There was so much food at church yesterday that I knew no one could sample everything, so the cooks who contributed each dish wouldn't be offended if I didn't take some from every platter that was out there. I just took a bit of each that I liked.
Leave lots of room on your plate. You should be able to see the pattern on the paper plate. If it's covered with food, you've probably taken too much!
Eat the real stuff. Choose foods you can recognize and identify like fruit salad, green salad, or vegetable sticks.
Avoid stuff dripping with cheese.
Many people say "don't show up hungry" but that's not possible. Catholics fast before Mass, and I tend to eat just a tiny breakfast before Sunday Mass anyway. I sang with the choir before showing up for the potluck so I was more thirsty than hungry anyway - but showing up without feeling ravenously hungry wasn't possible. If you can, I suppose it's a good idea, but it's not always possible.
One last thing - enjoy the company. Fellowship is about meeting people and enjoying time as a community, and that's my favorite part of the yearly event.