With Super Bowl Sunday almost upon us, here are some tips to surviving the big Gluttony Fest. Food centric parties and potlucks are part of every fun-filled Super Bowl but let’s get real and admit that the traditional party fare is not exactly good for you (hot dogs, chips & dip, soda, cookies, cakes – you know the offenders). And the buffet style hours-long grazing is a prime environment for serious overeating. While I’m all for indulging every so often, these gatherings can really make it tough to stick to your healthy, clean-eating lifestyle and still have FUN. Tough but not impossible! The trick is to arm yourself with a few healthy party-food ideas and follow a smart party-eating strategy. These tips hold true year-round because, let’s face it, we party all year ’round!
1) Make an effort to eat nutrient-rich satisfying meals leading up to the party. DON’T starve yourself leading up to the party, with the intent of saving calories. Feed yourself pre-party with foods high in fiber and protein, which will help you feel satiated. This will prevent you from showing up ravenous and scarfing down everything in sight.
2) Break a sweat! Give yourself a pre-party workout. Not only does this make you feel good, but I find that cardio decreases my appetite. Also, if I’ve recently worked myself over (where I’m begging myself for mercy), I’m more likely to think twice about a poor decision that may cancel out all my hard work!
3) Resist the calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient buffet foods (potato chips!) and instead focus on filling your plate with huge portions of nutrient-rich, high-fiber low calorie foods such as veggies, salads, whole grains, and lean protein. I put no restrictions on veggies – gorge away (just be careful with the dip).
4) Scan and assess the options on the buffet table BEFORE you load your plate.
5) And now we come to my favorite…beverages. Ah, beautiful bevies. Be aware that alcohol prohibits fat burning and severely impairs your face-stuffing inhibitions. If you want to drink alcohol, consider a spritzer (half soda water, half wine, squeeze of lime), or alcohol-free beer. Choose wine or champagne over cocktails made with sugary soda or simple syrup. If you just want to satisfy your thirst or have something in your hand, choose water or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. If you do choose alcohol, make sure you chase each drink with a big glass of water.
6) Feeling like you want something sweet? A great alternative to sugar loaded desserts are fruit salads, yogurt parfaits, and frozen fruit. Or go ahead and take a few bites of that decadent dessert and then set it aside. Chances are that little taste will satisfy your craving…or maybe you’ll decide it really wasn’t as good as your mind had hyped it up to be.
7) Step away from the buffet table! Make sure you park yourself out of arms-reach, otherwise you may find yourself on autopilot, unconsciously grazing away.
8) Bring something healthy as your food contribution to the party. Bring something that could be eaten as a complete meal, if necessary (contains all 3 macros: complex carbs, protein & fat). This way, you know for CERTAIN there will be at least one healthy option that you like, even if no one else brings anything healthy. Don’t worry, people won’t think you are boring. I have been thanked many times for my healthy contribution when there was nothing else healthy to choose from.
9) Remember there is more to a party than food & drink. Indulge and enjoy in all the reasons you really went to the party – good company, the atmosphere, activities, the Super Bowl commercials, the half-time show, etc..
10) Move! Jump up and down with excitement when your favorite team gets a touchdown! Jump up and down in anger when the other team gets a touchdown! If there is dancing during the half-time show, dance. If not, dance anyways! If there are lawn games, play! This is only fun, but also a great way to burn off some of the caloric indulgences.
So, now that we have our strategy, what the heck do we bring to the party? Following tip #8, I always bring something healthy and filling so I can be certain to have at least one healthy option. Here are some good options that most other partygoers will also enjoy. Click links for recipes.
Deviled Eggs (sub nonfat greek yogurt or cottage cheese for mayo)
Grilled Shrimp Cocktail (with a fresh salsa dip rather than sugary cocktail sauce)
Crudité (served with yogurt-based dips or hummus)
Grilled Chicken Salad