Wings, potato chips, hot links, nachos… this is the “warm up” that football fans across America will be participating in on Super Bowl Sunday. Moderation is still the best approach on game day because calories aside, one day of splurging is not entirely harmless.
Research suggests that one really high saturated fat meal or one salty meal can reduce the functioning of blood vessels within 30 minutes of intake for a high sodium meal and within 2-4 hours for a high saturated fat meal (according to the Canadian Journal of Cardiology 2012 vol 28, Issue 5, Supplement 2012 pages S245, Annals of Internal Medicine 2002 vol 136, pages 523-528, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011 vol 93, issue 3, pages 500-505.
Let’s be honest, most of the standard Super Bowl food fare will load on the calories, saturated fat and sodium, but with the following tips you can have your big game day, enjoy the finger food and keep your health on track.
Tip #1 Make Simple Ingredient Switches to lighten your superbowl food favorites!
Buy lighter, higher fiber items for your appetizer recipes when possible such as reduced fat chips, lighter chicken or turkey sausages, whole grain bread options, etc. Here are some sample ingredient switches for popular appetizers:
- Potato skins: Bake - don’t deep fry - the potato skins and top with reduced fat cheese, beans, chopped tomatoes, green onions, and light sour cream.
- Dips and spreads: Make your favorite dips and spreads with fat free or light sour cream, light mayonnaise or light cream cheese.
Tip #2 Balance Party Appetizers with Fruit & Vegetables Finger Food
Balance party foods, heavy on calories, saturated fat and sodium, with fruits and vegetables, which are heavy instead on important nutrients and fiber. Have someone bring a fruit platter and someone else a vegetable tray. Berries are easy—just wash and they are ready. Jicama, celery, sugar snap peas and baby carrots are great palate-cleansing and crunchy veggies (the latter two don’t need any kitchen prep.)
Tip #3 Choose Satisfying Beverages with Flavor But Zero Calories
Zero calories doesn’t mean you have to drink water – all your favorite beverages can fit into your Super Bowl fare in moderation. Try choosing satisfying beverages with flavor but zero calories to balance out some of the other goodies you’ll be eating. Consider stocking your party with options like Diet Coke, Vitamin Water Zero, unsweetened iced tea or sparkling mineral water. And if you choose to drink alcohol, remember to drink in moderation by alternating alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic no-calorie beverages.
Tip #4 “Mini” Portions are “IN”
Bring or buy mini portions of food and beverages. It’s easier to sample and taste the SuperBowl spread this way without getting uncomfortable or too full. For example, make cocktail hot dogs with light franks and whole grain buns cut into 2-inch segments and served with gourmet mustards and spreads. Serve small “cups” of lean chili instead of “bowls.” And for soda lovers, have Coca-Cola Minis on ice.
Tip #5 Light BBQ Anyone?
Lighten up the barbeque spread with these tips:
- Grill fish, skinless poultry or leaner meat options like grass-fed ground sirloin instead of higher fat or processed meat.
- Make potato or macaroni salad with a blend of nonfat Greek yogurt and light mayonnaise.
- Enjoy pasta salads made with whole-wheat pasta and light vinaigrette (oil and vinegar based) instead of creamy dressing.
For recipes and more, visit RecipeDoctor.com.
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian, author of 25 books (including "Tell Me What To Eat If I Have Diabetes," "Tell Me What To Eat If I Have Acif Reflux," "Tell Me What To Eat If I Suffer From Heart Disease," and more), and a consultant to universities, websites and companies, including food and beverage companies such as Coca-Cola.