Make a Game Plan for Smart Eating and Drinking at Super Bowl Parties

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Posted Date: 2/1/2018

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Super Bowl Sunday is a food lover’s paradise.

Even more than watching the game, many Super Bowl partygoers look forward to heaping their plates with scrumptious cuisines—finger foods and dipping sauces made with unique recipes, deep-fried buffalo wings, multi-topping pizza and the like—and washing it all down with sugary or alcoholic beverages.

A challenge for many on Super Bowl Sunday—particularly if you don’t normally keep a watchful eye on your calorie, fat, sugar or sodium intake—is finding that balance between enjoyable indulgence and healthy, sensible eating. As with the teams who will take the football field, it all begins with preparation. Dietitians at LifeBridge Health offer these suggestions for eating and drinking properly during the game:

Your pregame routine

It’s best to start the day with a hearty breakfast, fit in a calorie-burning workout and eat a healthy lunch prior to your Super Bowl festivities, as hoarding calories on America’s second-biggest food consumption day of the year after Thanksgiving “can backfire if you arrive to the party starving,” says Mindy Athas, an outpatient dietitian nutritionist at Carroll Hospital’s Tevis Center for Wellness.

And although they may not be the most popular choices among the spread, you should try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and grains, says Dr. Divya L. Selvakumar, an adjunct professor and clinical dietitian at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. If you are preparing dishes for a party you’re hosting or attending as a guest, consider using healthier, organic ingredients, particularly those with less salt and saturated fats, Selvakumar says. For instance, if you’re making bruschetta, try using whole wheat bread and natural cheeses. Baking, broiling or sautéing foods as opposed to frying them also helps make for healthier selections, Selvakumar says.

Athas says that serving and eating more Mediterranean-style foods, including grilled or baked chicken and fish instead of red or processed meats (which Selvakumar also recommends), is ideal. “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables to maximize nutrition, which helps with fullness and feeling satisfied,” Athas says. “Focus on fiber. Vegetables, fruits, whole grain and multigrain foods, nuts, seeds and other plants count. Beans and root vegetables also help with fullness and satisfaction.”

Beware of ‘mindless eating’

If you can help it, keep your plates small. “Limit portions of easy-to-overeat fried foods, chips and greasy items. Pick safer snacks like popcorn, raw vegetables, guacamole, hummus and salsa,” Athas says.

Another bad habit some Super Bowl viewers are guilty of and should correct: mindlessly munching while they’re wrapped up in watching the game. “Generally speaking, I don’t think it is a good idea to eat and watch TV at the same time. But if you are going to do it, you should make it a point to pay close attention to what you’re eating,” Selvakumar says.

Limiting eating to commercial breaks or periods when you’re taking a break from watching the game can also help you eliminate unnecessary consumption, Athas says. “When you are done eating, pop a piece of gum or some mints to keep from picking at the buffet,” she adds.

Know your limits

Alcoholic beverages, Athas warns, can be very high in calories, especially when mixed with soda, juice and/or flavored coffee. Partygoers should know their limits and avoid heavy drinking, which can lower your inhibitions and make you eat more than you intended. It’s also wise to eat while you drink.

“Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Never,” Selvakumar says. “If you want to drink, always make it a point to eat and drink at the same time. That will slow down the alcoholic consumption as well as the content and the absorption in the body.”

It’s also imperative to drink plenty of water. “Remember, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it will strip the body of fluid,” Selvakumar says.

Adds Athas: “Hydrate well. Sip on seltzer, club soda or plain or fruit-infused water in between bites of food. Sometimes hunger is masking thirst, so drink before eating. Drinking fluids also helps with digestion.”

Make a postgame plan, too. Athas suggests doing extra exercise and “drinking some extra fluids following the football frenzy.”

LifeBridge Health is one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in Maryland. It comprises Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, and related subsidiaries and affiliates. For more information, visit www.lifebridgehealth.org.

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