Touchdown: How to Maintain Your Nutrition Goals on Super Bowl Sunday

Touchdown: How to Maintain Your Nutrition Goals on Super Bowl Sunday

By: Kelly Sheridan

As Feb. 5 draws closer, excitement is in the air as friends gather, parties are thrown, and massive quantities of food are consumed. Millions of Americans are currently preparing for one of the most anticipated days of the year – Super Bowl XLVI. Since its first kickoff on January 15, 1967, the Super Bowl has become an unofficial American holiday. Even those who aren’t avid football fans are likely to participate in the day’s festivities. Watching the enthusiasm of overzealous fans and engaging in the competitive atmosphere are just as entertaining as the game itself. Yet, despite the fun and excitement, those who are health-conscious may be wary of the food commonly provided for most viewing parties. Favorite choices for football fans are likely to include pizza, quesadillas, chicken wings, chips, and salsa. After making a New Year’s Resolution to be more nutritious, there are few things more devastating than arriving at a Super Bowl gathering only to find greasy, high-calorie snacks. If you would prefer not to know the calorie counts of these popular choices, you should probably skip the next few lines of this article. Otherwise, here they are:

Scary Snack Statistics (www.calorieking.com)

Pizza (1 slice) – 298 calories

French Fries (medium serving) – 427 calories

Chips and Queso – 180 calories

Pizza Hut Buffalo Wings (2 pieces) – 230 calories

Domino’s Cheesy Breadsticks (2 pieces) – 240 calories

Quesadilla – 530 calories

Chocolate chip cookie – 130 calories

But don’t pick up that breadstick just yet! There are ways to make your Super Bowl Sunday both nutritious and delicious. Kristen Hamilton, the coordinator of health and fitness promotions at Villanova University, had some great suggestions for staying healthy at any party. Having just hosted a football-viewing gathering of her own, she was a wealth of nutritious information. Here are a few of her Super Bowl tips:

Keep the food in the kitchen. Keeping snacks away from the television decreases the likelihood of mindless munching. “Take a break at half-time for food” says Hamilton. This gives guests the opportunity to fill their plates before heading back to the television.

Go to the party full, not famished. One of the worst things you can do before a party is not eat, thinking that if you eat high-calorie food at the party then you won’t be overindulging for the day. Hamilton says that if you “save your calories” this way, you will likely end up binging on foods high in fat, calories, and sodium. By eating healthily throughout the day, you will arrive at the party satisfied and better able to make healthy food decisions.

Watch the booze. Beer is a popular beverage for most football-viewing parties, so it is likely to be served at your Super Bowl gathering this year. If you choose to drink, it is important to pay attention to how much you consume. Alcohol is dehydrating and high in calories, two reasons for which Hamilton emphasizes the importance of the “one-to-one rule,” or one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed. This way, you decrease your caloric intake and minimize the bloat that beer normally causes.

Stay motivated. Whether you made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, or just recently decided to eat healthier, every day counts. Of course, indulging on Super Bowl Sunday won’t curb your fitness goals for good. However, one day of unhealthy eating will likely result in being emotionally disappointed and losing motivation to keep up with your healthy habits. So, instead of ordering Domino’s on Feb. 5, take a trip to your local supermarket and obtain the ingredients for some quality healthy snacks. Hamilton recommends Trader Joe’s for their flaxseed chips and salsa.

Popcorn is the best snack. Although the majority of the food should be kept in the kitchen during the game, guests will likely get hungry before half-time. Keeping a bowl of popcorn in front of the television is a healthy way to accommodate hungry viewers before the majority of the food is served. Home-popped popcorn is delicious, cheap, and easy to make. The recipe can be found below, along with other healthy Super Bowl snacks.

Here are some wholesome and tasty recipes for your own Super Bowl party:

Home-popped Popcorn:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unpopped corn

Canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil

Directions

  1. Find a large, heavy pot with a lid. Coat the bottom of the pan with canola or vegetable oil and dump in about 1/2 cup of unpopped corn.
  2. Stay near the pot until the corn begins to pop. Shake it every 30 seconds.
  3. When it’s done popping, season it with your favorite ingredients!

Topping Ideas:

Cajun Seasoning

Old Bay Seasoning

Sea Salt and Pepper

Salt & Vinegar

Sugar and Cinnamon

Parmesan Cheese

Homemade Pita Chips:

Ingredients:

12 whole wheat pita bread pockets

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2  teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2  teaspoon cumin

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius).
  2. Cut each pita pocket into 8 triangles. Place triangles on lined cookie sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper and cumin. Brush each triangle with the mixture.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, because they tend to burn easily!

Dip these (or vegetables, pretzels, etc.) in…

Salsa: This is a tasty, low-calorie dip that is packed with nutrients. My personal favorite is Mango Salsa, which is available at most supermarkets. The mangoes in the salsa give it a unique fruity taste without adding many extra calories!

Hummus: At 70 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, hummus is a popular healthy dip which contains multiple health benefits. Made from chickpeas, hummus is high in protein and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Sour Cream Veggie Dip

Ingredients:

8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. mayo
1 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp. minced onion
1 tbsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. dill weed
Dash of garlic powder

TIP! With this, as well as all recipes involving sour cream, substitute the sour cream with Greek yogurt. It cuts a lot of calories, adds nutritional value, and you can’t taste the difference. For this recipe, light mayonnaise instead of regular would also cut calories.

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

These are just a few ways to satisfy your hunger this Super Bowl Sunday without indulging in high-calorie snack foods for the entirety of the game.

For half-time foods, consider:

  • Cold cuts (ham, turkey, and roast beef) and cheeses for a make-your-own sandwich bar
  • Baked potato chips
  • Tossed Salad with variety of dressings

Homemade pizza

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (easily obtained at local pizzerias)
Tomato sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese (for lower calorie, try skim or part-skim varieties)

Toppings (suggestions: peppers, sliced tomato, grilled chicken, broccoli, spinach, pineapple, ham)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius).
  2. Roll dough out into a thin circle (for personal pizzas, separate dough into balls and then roll into thin circles).
  3. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on flattened dough.
  4. Sprinkle layer of mozzarella cheese on top of sauce.
  5. Get creative with toppings! It’s your pizza, so you can put whatever you want on it. For a healthier pie, I recommend a generous helping of vegetables. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple) is also unique and tasty.
  6. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown

So this upcoming Super Bowl Sunday, swap pita chips for potato chips, and salsa for queso dip. These, as well as the other suggested recipes, will help your Super Bowl Sunday be healthy, fun and delicious.

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