PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Your Super Bowl Sunday Snack Game Plan

Posted on Feb 3, 2012

Any idea how far you’d need to walk to work off one, measly M&M (and we’re talking plain here, not the peanut, pretzel, double-stuffed/whatever variety)? Believe it or not, you’d have to walk the entire length of a football field for something that’s not even a full bite of food!

Speaking of football and calories and bites, Super Bowl Sunday has been reported to be the second highest day of calorie consumption after Thanksgiving! Maybe not so surprising when you think about that, for many fans, the “event” is not just about the X’s and O’s of the game, it’s about the accompanying food fiesta (or frenzy, as the case may be). Even a game of touch football at half-time will not be enough to counteract the 1,200 calories the average Super Bowl viewer will consume in snacks alone that day – and that’s not even including the meals yet.

So, how to defend against your own calorie blow-out this Sunday? Here are some basic ideas to help you have an enjoyable event and delicious things to eat, while keeping a focus on your healthy eating goals:

  • Consider having a “potato bar” with russet, Yukon gold and sweet potatoes and a variety of low-calorie toppings, such as salsa, chopped onions or scallions, non-fat sour cream and vegetarian chili (my favorite on top of a sweet potato with salsa and sour cream!).
  •  If you can’t imagine following the action without something to dip, how about a variety of hummus dips with veggies and/or whole wheat pita triangles.
  •  Like to nosh with something crunchy? Edamame (Japanese soybeans) warmed in the microwave and lightly salted are very satisfying and fun to eat as you take them out of their shells (this process will slow down your overall eating as well to help keep calorie consumption under control).
  • A refreshing change of pace might be to make some rolls with crunchy veggies and perhaps some shrimp in translucent spring roll wrappers. Pair with a low-calorie dipping sauce of low-sodium soy sauce, lime juice and a bit of chili sauce for a kick, or a low-fat ginger sesame salad dressing.
  • Strawberries dipped into plain non-fat Greek yogurt and then into a bowl of brown sugar for a light dusting, make for a tantalizing combination of tangy, sweet and juicy.
  • Think “substitute and modify.” Become a fat and calorie “detective” and look to where you can eliminate higher calorie fatty foods and substitute with lower calorie versions.
    • Think veggie pizza instead of the fully-loaded, all-meat variety.
    • Make dips with non-fat sour cream or something like a non-fat ranch dressing
    • Bonus points if you substitute veggies or a leaner meat choice for the Buffalo wings.
  • If you’re really concerned about your calorie consumption, have a pre-game plan to take the edge off your hunger before you go by having a healthy pre-event meal or snack.
  • Make it a plan to load up on fruit and veggie offerings first. The head-start on all that fiber will help you feel full before you even get to the higher calorie choices and thus, provide some built-in portion control.
  • To avoid mindless eating, physically situate yourself well away from the chips, dips and assorted snacks on the coffee table and definitely keep the buffet table out of your peripheral vision. If you see it, you will eat it, so to speak.
  • Want to stick to a set calorie intake? Use the “bite method” where you count every “bite” of typical Super Bowl fare as 75 calories per bite and then stop when you’ve hit your limit. A 500-calorie tally, for example, would be about 6 bites and change. Fruit and veggies, on the other hand, tend to be more along the lines of 10 calories per bite. When you look at it that way, you may have good incentive to follow some of the above advice to lower your average calorie per bite so you can have more than a meager few.

As football pundits are fond of saying, the best defense is a good offense. So head into your Super Bowl get-together with a solid game plan of strategies, supportive choices and substitutions. The more you plan ahead, the better prepared you will be to deal with calorie/healthy eating choices and consequences — and the better able you will be to enjoy!

This blog post contributed by Karen Handy, MPH, a behavioral health educator and manager of nutrition and diabetes education at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.