A successful Super Bowl party is made up of a collection of traditions… sporting your team’s colors, the clever commercials, innocent banter between family and friends—and food—lots and lots of food. While some of these traditions you simply can’t shy away from, others can be easily improved.
Like most people, you’ve probably fallen prey once or twice (OK, every year) to overeating at the snack table and bottomless game day buffet. It’s easy to do, but it can also easily be avoided. Improve your habits using the following tips to evade game-day grazing and you’ll be good-to-go for the big game!
1. Eat beforehand
Picture this: You’ve put together a lovely veggie tray and hummus—but the party doesn’t start for another hour. Your stomach starts to rumble. Knowing there will be plenty of food to spare at your destination, you ignore it. While you fully intended on sticking by your platter of greens, you arrive at the party completely ravenous. Can you guess what happens next?
Pay attention to your hunger cues. If your body is telling you to eat, honor it! Your body doesn’t schedule its need for nourishment around sporting events. Have a snack beforehand such as a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread for some protein and fiber. You may find you’re less focused on the spread of food at the party.
2. Be choosy
Attending a game-day party is a great way to catch up with the family and friends we don’t get to see on a regular basis. The best part (or worst!)? Everyone brings a dish! But it’s important to remember that just because a close friend brought a special treat, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to try it. Be choosy, and be mindful. If it doesn’t really satisfy you, why eat it? Make sure you’re enjoying your food and not just eating mindlessly.
3. Avoid mindless grazing
An hours-long football game is dangerous territory for a snacker. Instead of multiple trips to the buffet or reaching for chips by the handful, try putting together a full plate of food for yourself and aim to ONLY eat off that plate. Fill half the plate with veggies and fruit, a quarter with starchy foods (chips, pretzels, breads), and another quarter with protein foods (meats, cheeses, nuts). Eat what amounts to a full meal first, then return to the buffet later if you need a little something else to snack on.
4. Back off the booze
Beyond the jerseys, the commercials and the food, there’s another Super Bowl tradition we’ve yet to address: the drinks. Not only can alcohol add a lot of calories to your evening, but lowered inhibitions may result in more grazing and munching than you intended. If you choose to drink, make a plan before the evening arrives. Perhaps you’ll just have one beer at the start of the game, then sip on sparkling water for the rest. Or maybe you’ll have one drink at the start of each half. Going into the situation with a plan makes it more likely that you’ll keep your health in the forefront of your mind. This alone is immensely helpful when you’re trying to make healthier choices.
In addition to the aforementioned tips, don’t forget to savor the precious time spent with family and friends. And with luck, you and your chosen team will be savoring the sweet taste of victory at the end of the night!
Hosting a sporty shindig of your own? Click here for 15 better-for-you game day recipes for your football party!
This article was contributed by Kate Kanner, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist with The Little Clinic (inside select Kroger locations). For more information about dietitian services, visit thelittleclinic.com/dietitians.