Healthy Eating During the Big Game
Make smart Super Bowl snacking choices
Don’t pack on the pounds as you watch your favorite team score a touchdown during the Super Bowl. Here are some tips to help you snack smarter this year.
According to the Atlanta-based Calorie Control Council, Americans are estimated to eat 30 million pounds of snacks during the Super Bowl. This includes 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 2.5 million pounds of nuts on game day. In terms of calories, the average Super Bowl game watcher consumes 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat just from snacking alone.
The Council recommends snacking on no-fat and low-fat chips and dips by substituting fat-free salsa or reduced-fat sour cream or non-fat yogurt to your menu. Fresh herbs and spices such as cilantro, parsley and hot peppers can be added to give flavor to dips.
Choosing portion-controlled servings is important, says Edye Wagner, Manager of Clinical Nutrition Services at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. “The problem with a big bowl of popcorn or pretzels is that it leads to ‘mindless’ eating that can pack on the calories and contains little nutritional value. By substituting similar, portion-controlled foods, such as rice or popcorn cakes and spreading on peanut butter, you have a better snack choice that will leave you more satisfied.”
Wagner offers a variety of suggestions for healthful eating during the game. Healthful, low-calorie snacks include:
- A vegetable platter with hummus
- Shrimp with cocktail sauce
- Smoked salmon served with cocktail rye
- A broth-based soup made with fresh or frozen vegetables
- Fat-free or sugar-free puddings
- Flour tortillas, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and baked
It’s important to make informed beverage choices as well. In terms of low-calorie drinks, choose a light beer, add some spritzer to wine or make some punch using a sugar-free drink mix, Wagner suggests.
On game day, Wagner also suggests that sports enthusiasts eat lower-fat, lower-carbohydrate meals for breakfast and lunch to compensate for the possibility of over-snacking while watching the Super Bowl. Focus on eating more protein at those meals, she says. And it’s a good idea before the game, Wagner adds, to go out and take a walk because you’ll be sitting on the couch for three or four hours during the game. Or try to get some exercise during halftime. You can also keep food and drinks in another room so that you aren’t constantly tempted, Wagner suggests.
And remember to return to your regular, healthy eating routine the next day. It is okay to discard snacks that are not consumed, so that you do not eat them all week.