The Super Bowl is synonymous with food. Well, maybe booze AND food. And we’re not talking about health food, of course. On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans eat 1.3 billion chicken wings and 11.2 million pounds of potato chips. We drink 325 million gallons of beer. This calorie-fest combined with several hours of sedentary behavior (i.e. sitting on the couch and watching the game) is not exactly conducive with the healthy eating habits many of us have or aspire to have. Although Super Bowl Sunday will most likely always be a day of indulgence, there are things we can do to help curb some of the worse unhealthy eating behaviors. Below, we offer some tips to help us all have a healthier Super Bowl Sunday. Don’t worry, we can still have our wings (and beer).
For those of us making our own Super Bowl party dishes, we can use this as an opportunity to add in some healthy ingredients to our dishes. For example, these healthy chipotle chicken sweet potato skins have less calories and saturated (unhealthy) fat. Swapping out sweet potatoes for regular potatoes and chicken for bacon adds more protein, fiber, vitamin A, Potassium, and vitamin B-6.
This healthier spinach artichoke dip contains less calories and saturated fat than traditional spinach artichoke dip. By adding white beans and reducing the amount of cream cheese, this dish keeps its creamy texture that people love…and packs more protein and fiber than the its regular recipe.
Take Home Tip: Healthy ingredient swaps make a difference!
Scan the Playing Field
One way to keep from over-indulging on the food buffet is to control our portion sizes. According to mindful eating expert Brian Wansink, it is best to survey all food options first, then make our plate. This helps us identify which foods we really want and which foods we could do without. People who follow this technique tend to consume more appropriate portions than people who simply make their plate as they go along the buffet of options. This technique works whether you are eating at a restaurant buffet or at a home Super Bowl party.
Take Home Tip: Survey the options first, then make a plate.
Instead of breaded, fried wings, soaked in sauce, try baked or grilled wings. Changing the cooking method from deep frying to grilling or baking is a simple way to reduce excess calories from saturated fat. These ginger garlic shrimp with tangy tomato sauce are also a good addition to the lineup. By using marinade instead of breading, the shrimp retain a savory flavor without the added calories.
Take Home Tip: Bake or grill meats instead of frying them.
Now that we’ve identified some healthier versions of chicken wings, lets focus on building a healthy, yet filling plate. At least half of our plate should be fruits and veggies. One quarter of our plate should be lean protein and the other quarter of our plate can be whatever we want! Normally this last quarter would be filled with whole grains, but hey, it’s Super Bowl Sunday and trying to eat “perfectly” will likely result in deviating from the plan entirely and over-indulging. Everything in moderation.
Research shows us that we eat for the volume we want, not the calories we want. This is why it’s so important to load our plate up with lean protein, fruits, and veggies. For example, try this white bean dip or these mini turkey burgers with gorgonzola. These foods will help us to feel full and satisfied versus eating high fat and high carbohydrate foods that will likely cause an energy rush followed by an energy crash.
“In other words, volume trumps calories. We eat the volume we want, not the calories we want.”
― Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
Take Home Tip: Load up with fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.
Avoid Holding Penalties (Alternate Beer with Water)
Calories from mixed drinks and beer can really add up. Cutting out alcohol is not an option for most people during the big game. Instead, we recommend to swap out light beer for regular beer. According to Fooducate, a 12-ounce regular beer has 150 calories, whereas a light beer has only 110 calories. Accordingly, a regular beer has 13 grams of carbs compared to a light beer, which has only 5 carbs. By switching to light beer we save around 40 calories and 8 carbs with each beer. Most importantly of all, don’t forget to drink water in between each alcoholic beverage. This will not only help increase satiety (the feeling of being full), but it also helps to prevent dehydration.
Take Home Tip: Stick to light beer. Alternate alcoholic beverages with water.