Healthy Super Bowl Sunday Game Plan
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All right team, huddle up. We all know that the buzz surrounding Super Bowl XLVII isn’t just about the game — it’s about the party, too, and it isn’t a party without food, especially when it comes to football. A typical football spread of "tailgating food" is notoriously laden with fat, salt, sugar, and alcohol, which can easily sack anyone’s healthy-eating plan.
With all the nachos, Buffalo wings, and chili, most people eat like a linebacker and easily pack away more than a day’s worth of calories and fat in just a few short hours. Don’t get us wrong, though, because we know there’s no way to sit on the sidelines and avoid the food altogether. But it’s not impossible to enjoy your favorite Super Bowl foods and eat healthy, too. Just follow these four simple steps for a foolproof game plan and you’ll be sure to keep your healthy-eating plan on track.
Know your opponent. To avoid a game day blunder, make sure you plan out some delicious and healthy foods that everyone will enjoy. Usually "healthy" is the last thing people want on game day, but it’s easy to make a few simple swaps that will keep your old favorites on the menu and the crowd cheering for more. Skip ordering pizza and make bite-sized bruschetta instead. These tasty Italian appetizers are a simple and delicious way to control portions. And get creative by experimenting with low-calorie ingredients. For example, by mashing green peas into your guacamole you can easily cut the calories in half and add tons of vitamins and minerals without anyone ever knowing the difference.
Don’t forget to warm up. People often try to "save" calories on game day by avoiding food all day until the feasting begins. But skipping meals will only make you ravenous and you’ll end up overeating before you know it. Instead, beat the blitz by eating normal meals and snacks leading up to kick-off that are packed with fiber and nutrients to keep your energy up and your hunger at bay. To avoid a false start, make sure to have a small snack before game time. Try a bowl of vegetable soup or a piece of fruit and cheese to curb your pregame cravings
Stay Hydrated. What’s the point of eating healthy if you’re just going to end up drinking all those calories that you worked so hard to save? Not only is alcohol full of empty calories, but it also causes people to overindulge. Choose lighter varieties such as light beer and cocktails mixed with soda water instead of pop or juice. And don’t forget to alternate with water to cut the calories you drink in half and keep yourself hydrated all day long.
Take a timeout. There is a good chance that no matter how healthy you make your food, you will take in extra calories regardless. Schedule a break from the buffet for some extra physical activity. How about some touch football at halftime in honor of the big game? Just 30 minutes of touch football burns almost 300 calories and is a great way to get everyone re-energized for the second half.
With this pregame plan, you’ll be ready for a food-filled football party that won’t sabotage all of the healthy eating you’ve been doing. To make your Super Bowl even healthier, follow these calorie-saving swaps:
- Make a pot of vegetarian chili or use low-fat ground turkey breast instead of beef to cut the fat.
- Instead of chicken wings, make chicken fingers by baking skinless chicken breast strips coated in breadcrumbs and seasoning.
- Replace the sour cream and mayo in your dip recipes with fat-free Greek yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese.
- Keep a fruit platter stocked instead of a dessert tray.
- Replace chips with dry cereal, air-popped popcorn, and pretzels.
Andrea Mawson, BSc, RD, IOC Diploma Sport Nutrition is a nutritionist and private practice registered dietitian specializing in weight loss. She has created an innovative nutritional program that she has used on clients all across Canada to achieve and maintain their best weight, improved health, and well-being. For more information log onto www.andreamawson.ca.
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