Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant
Nearly 100 million people in the U.S. watch the Super Bowl every year, and most of the snacks and drink while they’re watching the event. In fact, 7 in 10 Americans watching the game will consume at least 4.5 times the recommended daily calorie intake -- in just 5 hours!
Here are several easy tips and tricks that can help you enjoy healthier Super Bowl snacking this year.
1. Fix yourself a plate.
One way to make your Super Bowl snacking healthier is to fix yourself a plate rather than eating from large serving bowls. Fixing a plate lets you control your portion sizes and gives you a visual way of keeping track of how much food you’re consuming.
There’s also some evidence that shows people eat fewer calories if they eat from smaller plates and eat from plates whose color is similar to the color of the food they’re eating (i.e., low color contrast).
2. Make veggies the star of the show.
Vegetables offer a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. They also have a high water content, which means you can eat a large quantity while consuming relatively few calories.
To make your Super Bowl snacking healthier this year, focus on including vegetables in as many snacks as possible. Vegetable platters, vegetable-based dips, and plant-based meat alternatives are great ways to make snacking both healthy and satisfying.
3. Drink plenty of water.
Drinking water before you start eating can help you eat fewer calories because water fills your stomach, which signals your brain to stop sending hunger signals to your body. Also, because water contains zero calories, it’s a good way to stay hydrated without consuming calorie-rich drinks that contain sugar or alcohol. Keep a water bottle next to the couch to remind you to drink water throughout the game.
4. Prepare homemade snacks.
While store-bought appetizers and dips are convenient, they often contain high amounts of sodium, artificial preservatives, and saturated fat. Preparing homemade snacks lets you use recipes that contain fresher ingredients, fewer additives, less salt, and lower amounts of saturated and trans fats.
5. Make smart substitutions.
Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways you can make your favorite Super Bowl snacks healthier by making a few simple substitutions. You can lower a dish’s calorie and fat content by using ingredients like low-fat Greek yogurt, light sour cream, and low-fat milk and cheese instead of their full-fat counterparts. Also, substituting lean proteins for high-calorie, high-fat proteins can lower the calorie and fat content of many dishes. Pro tip: swap out the high-sodium chips and crackers for a lower calorie option like popcorn or homemade veggie chips.
6. Don’t overdo the alcohol.
While alcoholic beverages are a mainstay of many Super Bowl parties, it’s important to limit your consumption of alcohol to make your celebration as healthy as possible. Alcoholic beverages contain empty, non-nutritious calories. Also, alcohol can impair your inhibitions, making it more likely that you’ll overindulge in unhealthy snacks.
7. Minimize nutrient-dense foods.
One of the tips for healthy eating is to eat foods that make you feel full while minimizing the calories you’re consuming. You can do this by eating foods that have a relatively large volume and relatively low calories. Focusing on vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins while minimizing nutrient-dense foods like cheese, chips and fried foods can help you feel satisfied -- without consuming an unhealthy number of calories.
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