This Sunday the Colts meet the Bears in Miami, and chicken wings, pizza, chili, potato chips, ranch dip, nachos, popcorn, deviled eggs, soda pop and beer are all planning to meet up in your stomach. Notoriously all about eating (and nipples), the Super Bowl is an easy way to blow all your New Year’s resolutions in a few short hours, watching other people exercise while you get sauced and stuff your face with salty, fatty, sugary foods, then step outside for a cigarette during the commercials. But drinking beer and chowing down is half the reason the big game is so fun. So for all you armchair quarterbacks who also care about your health, the Weekly wants you to know that, come Super Sunday, you can have your bacon cheese puffs and eat them too—just follow our game plan.
The Super Bowl is ranked the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving, with Americans consuming 30.4 million pounds of just snack foods during the big event (not including meal items like burgers or pizza, or alcoholic beverages). In a perfect world, you would limit your snacks to veggies and fruit, but where’s the fun in that? Let’s be realistic—during the game, rather than stick to a diet, you’re probably better off just trying not to gain weight.
Your first line of defense is portion control. Even a healthful food, like peanuts, can pack on the pounds when you over-indulge (a half-cup has 414 calories and 36 grams of fat). The best advice is to not eat unless your hungry, but another helpful trick is to not eat anything you haven’t first served on a small plate—actually looking at what you’re eating usually means you’ll eat less. Another good idea is to make sure you don’t have “too many players on the field.” Multiple studies have found that when we have more food options available to us, we tend to eat more (think buffets). Settle on three or four of your favorite treats, and you’ll likely consume less.
Your next option is to go on the offensive—substitute healthier, but still tasty, variations on traditional snack favorites. Instead of ranch dip, go with spicy salsa. Have fat-free pretzels, air-popped popcorn or baked chips instead of regular potato and corn chips. Try turkey burgers, chili sin carne and homemade pizza with less cheese and more veggies. Make your own version of chicken wings by oven frying skinless chicken pieces dipped in egg white or buttermilk and dredged in either breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes. Serve them with a flavorful honey-mustard or barbecue sauce. Guacamole and nuts have a lot of healthful properties but are also high in calories and fat, so be sure to watch those portions. Most beers and soft drinks have 150-200 calories per serving, so drink light beer or at least alternate beers with water or diet soda—your waistline and your head will thank you in the morning. Plus, because drinking and smoking tend to go hand-in-hand, you might be less likely to light up.
The Super Bowl isn’t about deprivation, so simply trimming calories here and there is your touchdown tactic. Best of all, if you eat less and generally make healthier choices, you leave room to indulge in a few of your favorites—like those bacon cheese puffs—without having to worry about unwelcome fat ending up in your end zone.