The Super Bowl is almost here, but what does the big game mean for our health? We can’t let a single event derail our healthy eating habits and lifestyle of the new year, but we can still enjoy ourselves. Luckily, it is possible to have a good time and stay on track to achieve our health goals.
Social gatherings often pose a challenge: lots of tempting foods cross our path and portion control goes out the window due to excitement and social pressure that can make us eat and drink more than usual. The key to a self-control victory during the Super Bowl is to have a game plan. Having a plan makes us much less-likely to choose unhealthy foods or eat excessive amounts.
Use these tips to make a healthy game plan for Super Bowl Sunday:
- Eat a nutritious, balanced meal before the game. Do not start the game off hungry. Eat a balanced meal with vegetables, protein, and whole grains before the game so you’ll be satisfied and better able to resist tempting junk foods.
- Exercise in the morning before the game starts. Besides burning off some of that gameday excitement, this will help offset the extra calories you might consume during the game and give your metabolism a little boost.
- Make and/or serve lighter game day snacks. Veggie trays and hummus are a good go-to as well as bowls of mixed nuts or guacamole/salsa and chips. Try making dishes a little lighter by reducing the amount of sugar, fat, or salt in the recipes and substituting healthier ingredients—like nonfat, plain Greek yogurt in the place of sour cream.
- Don’t drink your calories. Hydrate before the game and have water or flavored sparkling water available to sip on. Sometimes we feel hungry when we’re really just thirsty, so staying hydrated may also curb those munchies.
- Be selective in the foods you choose to eat. Check out all the available dishes before you make your plate, then fill half your plate with vegetables or fruit and pick out your top three favorite foods to sample.
If you have questions about lightening a recipe or want assistance making a game plan, your VA dietitian is ready to help. Skim through the VA’s Yummy Benefits Cookbook for more recipe ideas. Contact your local VA to get in touch with a registered dietitian. Enjoy the game.
Melanya Kushla is a registered dietitian specializing in wellness and outpatient nutrition at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida. She manages the Healthy Teaching Kitchen program, and provides nutrition therapy and education for a variety of outpatient and residential programs. In her leisure time, Melanya enjoys traveling, costuming, cooking, creative and performing arts and competing in combative sports tournaments.