By Lauren Slayton
We can hear the heckling now. We know the Super Bowl comes once a year, and though we're nutrition-obsessed, we also know that your "play" on any one day doesn't really change your health or weight. Yet, for sports fans every day is game day and socializing can include enough sports food and sports drinks that - suddenly - your "season" is ruined and you're wondering where your health game plan failed you. As you read this, look down: If you see a football where that sixpack could be, we're talking to you!
So eat strategically this Super Bowl. We're here to help, by highlighting five common Super Bowl food fumbles, and how you can turn them into MVP plays.
We have to start with the beer. We conducted a highly scientific study, which involved polling a group of twenty-something guys and asked, "What are the beverages we should look into for a Superbowl story?" We came back with a one-item list:
Food Fumble: If you consume six regular bottles of beer you have ingested 900 calories before eating a thing. To burn this beer off you'd have to play (not watch) 90 minutes of football.
Food MVP: For half the calories, go for light beer and stick to one per quarter. That's 400 calories.
Related: 10 Utterly Weird Uses of Vodka
While you may be somewhat aware of your meal foods, you can't sit through a Super Bowl (or even watch Super Bowl commercials) without talking snacks.
Food Fumble: One large handful Chex Mix or other snack mixes packs 390 calories. We were shocked a cereal-based mix could be so caloric until we saw the recipes calling for a pound of butter!
Food MVP: Pistachios or peanuts in their shell. We love these "activity" snacks as the shelling naturally slows you down. They contain good fats and stress-reducing crunch. One handful or ounce: 170 calories.
Pizza figured prominently in the sports' menus for the subjects we interviewed (spouses/boyfriends).
Food Fumble: We love pepperoni too but it's a nutritional interception. One slice of pepperoni pizza approaches 400 calories. How many football fans have just one piece?
Food MVP: Instead, go for a veggie topping of thin crust pizza (150 calories). Opt for whole-wheat crust for an "extra point."
Related: 13 Healthy Homemade Pizza Recipes
A lot of tailgate food revolves around condiments: The cheese, the sauce, and the dips. No food incorporates more of these than 7-layer dip.
Food Fumble: The 7-layer dip has 7 layers of refried beans and cheese and 400-500 calories per cup.
Food MVP: Although salsa has almost no calories we're not suggesting anything this drastic. Simply replace 7-layer dip with good ol' guacamole and you'll slash your calories in half.
Related: The 80-Calorie Guacamole Recipe
When we say bucket you think... wings! And if you think of wings for your Super Bowl menu, we say... Think again.
Food Fumble: Two (yes, just two) wings with blue cheese dip: 700 calories.
Food MVP: If you must wing, ditch the dip or serve grilled Buffalo-flavored chicken breasts. That's a relatively tiny 150 calories per five-ounce serving.
Related: 9 Food Label Lies: Don't be Fooled!
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Lauren Slayton, a registered dietitian, is the founder of Food Trainers, a New York City-based holistic health and nutrition counseling service. She has developed several programs, including Mindful Menus and Market Foodtraining, to give individuals, families, corporations and athletes attainable strategies for managing a healthy lifestyle.
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.