I believe it was this time last year (or the Super Bowl the year prior) KMJ radio interviewed me asking for recommendations for a healthy Super Bowl. To be honest, I felt a little trapped – I knew I’d be the “buzz kill” that every man would shun because I wanted them to eat healthy during the biggest football game of the year. However, I did the interview and provided the information I offer to you now. And yes, the talk show hosts had a lot to say about eating what they wanted during the Super Bowl parties!

First to remember, no one event, one meal, one snack will ever ruin your weight or your health status. Unfortunately, we tend to live in such a “black and white” world of nutrition where you are either on a diet 100% of the time or completely “off the wagon.” We’ve lost sense of the nutrition concept of balance where you can focus on eating healthy MOST of the time (versus 100% of the time). We champion those who follow a restrictive diet without wavering, without “cheating.”

This being said, give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite Super Bowl foods. This day of eating will not ruin your progress. So many people give up on their health goals because of one day where they strayed – instead, plan for a day of fun with food and move forward with healthy eating the following day!

For those of you looking to stay balanced, here are some tips for the big game:

  1. Don’t stand around the food. We are prompted to eat with the presence of food in direct eyesight. Get your food and move to a location where you’ll have to get up and get something if you’d like more.
  2. Try to balance out your food groups on your plate. Attempt to achieve about 1/3 of your plate as grains, 1/3 vegetables and 1/3 a high protein source. I know this sounds impossible in this setting, but picture a plate of nachos with tortilla chips (grains), cheese (protein) and salsa (vegetables). Or possibly a burger (grain and protein) with a handful of veggies from a veggie tray.
  3. Take your time in eating! Typical foods at a Super Bowl are highly palatable which promotes your desire to eat more. Slow down your eating to allow your body time to feel satisfied. You can accomplish this by taking sips of a beverage between bites if needed.
  4. Watch your alcohol intake! Alcohol tends to increase your appetite and can add significant calories in a hurry. Try to give your liver time to process it as well – aim for no more than 1 drink per hour (12 oz. beer, 5 oz. glass of wine, 1 ½ oz. of hard alcohol). Remember that a light beer may have less calories but has the same amount of alcohol, so the recommendation still applies.
  5. Don’t “save room” for your party foods by not eating until the party. This only makes you ravenously hungry which can cause you to feel out of control in your eating.
  6. Plate all of your foods. If you reach into a bag/box or grab from a platter several times, it’s difficult to know how much you’ve eaten. There’s no visual or frame of reference to understand your portion sizes. Use a plate, bowl, napkin to plate all that you eat.
  7. Stick to your favorites! Don’t eat just to eat. Choose your favorite options as those will be the most satisfying. Sometimes people attempt to divert from what they REALLY want to control calories only to end up eating it eventually….plus all the other foods they didn’t like in the first place. Honor your food preferences and your individual tastes to get the most enjoyment and satisfaction out of your foods.
  8. For a healthy food option, bring it to the party. Don’t rely on what someone is providing if you want a healthier food item to choose from. There are many ideas on fun and healthier Super Bowl recipes including: www.foodnetwork.com/big-game/big-game-appetizers/made-over-game-day-classics

No matter how you decide to approach it – have a wonderful time at the biggest sports party of the year! (Or for some of you, the biggest t.v. commercial celebration of the year!)

Happy eating, Sunny