HOUSTON (Feb. 2, 2011) — The holidays are over, the New Year is here, and people across the country are trying to eat healthier despite temptations around every corner — including events like the Super Bowl, where fatty, salty, high-calorie foods are a staple during the annual tradition. But, you don’t have to let supersized snacks ruin your waistline.
“Overeating during the game is easy to do, especially when you’re sitting for long stretches of time sharing snacks from large containers,” says Ann Smith Barnes, MD, medical director, Weight Management Services and Disease Prevention, Harris County Hospital District. “Before you know it, you’ve eaten an entire bag of chips. But, with a little planning, you can enjoy healthier snacks.”
Barnes offers the following tips:
- Choose veggie-based dips such as salsa or pico de gallo to save on calories. Spices also help curb your appetite. If you make cream-based dips, use fat-free mayonnaise, sour cream and cream cheese.
- Opt for baked chips, pretzels, trail mix or goldfish over regular potato chips. They contain less fat, calories and sodium, and kids like them too.
- Make pre-packaged popcorn bags with a cup of popcorn in each bag, or buy small cups for scooping to control portion size. Leave out extra salt and butter to cut additional calories.
- Prepare a vegetable tray and use light or reduced-calorie ingredients for traditional dips like onion dip. Fill with carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes and replenish throughout the game.
After the pre-game snacking, some of the bigger temptations lie in the main meal and desserts. But, Barnes says lower-calorie versions of your favorite half-time foods can be modified to keep you and your guests on a healthier course.
- Bake chicken wings instead of frying them, and use your favorite seasoning to glaze instead of heavy sauces. Skip the ranch/bleu cheese for dipping. Just two pieces (one serving, 2.6 ounces) of fried, boneless chicken wings with ranch sauce (1.5 ounces) packs 230 calories, according to calorieking.com.
- Make your own pizzas. Buy thin crust to save on calories and load with veggies. If you add meat, choose lean ground beef and top with reduced-fat or low fat shredded cheese.
- Make a healthier version of chili by using lean beef, turkey or chicken. Load it with healthy ingredients like tomatoes. Add a variety of beans, which are high in fiber and make you feel full. Serve in mugs instead of large bowls.
- Serve fruit for dessert. Cut up pineapples, strawberries, melon, apples and make a simple fruit dip using light Cool Whip or vanilla yogurt.
- Make a light version of strawberry shortcake by preparing angel food cake and serve with strawberries and light whipped cream.
- Cut brownies and cookies into bite size portions. For ice cream, choose lower calorie/low fat versions.
“Balance and portion control are key at any party,” Barnes says. “You don’t have to pass up your favorite foods – just eat them in moderation to score a healthy meal during the Super Bowl.”