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Tips for a Healthy Super Bowl Menu

Ways to avoid the game-day binge and still enjoy yourself

Super Bowl Sunday: It's the second-biggest eating day of the year, after Thanksgiving. Chips and dip, wings, beer — you know you're going to that party for more than just football and the commercials.
The scary truth:

  • Fans eat between 1,200 and 2,400 calories during the day, according to the Calorie Control Council. You’ll wade into the high end with foods like pizza and nachos.
  • Americans will eat 1.25 billion chicken wings during this year’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, according to the National Chicken Council.
  • We'll down about 50 million cases of beer. That 2013 estimate, from SaveOnBrew.com, doesn't even include beer purchased at bars or the stadium.

(MORE: Fiftysomething Diet: 5 Powerful Weight-Loss Boosters)

Sadly, those of us over 50 can’t eat and drink like we did when we were in our 20s — unless we want to pile on the pounds and compromise our health. But you can limit the binge-fest and still enjoy yourself by following a few tips for party guests and hosts, provided here in part by Marci Clow, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based registered dietician. You can also find recipe ideas below.
If you are attending a party:

  • Eat something before you go. Then, you won’t be as tempted to overeat once you arrive. Don’t “save up” your calories.
  • If you'll be drinking alcohol, alternate it with glasses of water. You’re more likely to stay hydrated and sober that way and you’ll consume fewer calories.
  • Have a plan in advance. You know you will be faced with fatty, salty and high-calorie foods. So tell yourself you will sample a little of this and a little of that, Clow says.
  • Focus on the healthy stuff, like vegetables and hummus, if it's available. Be careful to avoid the one-part-carrot, three-parts-onion-dip approach.

(MORE: 7 Big Myths About Body Fat)

If you are hosting the party:

  • Offer guacamole, which features nutritious avocados, instead of onion dip. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips in place of standard flour tortilla chips.
  • Another good dip alternative: lowfat Greek yogurt dip with baked chips instead of regular potato chips.
  • Serve a lower-fat version of chili, such as vegetarian or turkey chili. Here’s a recipe for Ultimate Game-Day Chili using extra-lean ground beef.
  • Instead of fried potato skins or potato chips, serve sweet potato skins topped with avocado and chives. Or try this recipe for Sweet Potato Nachos from the American Heart Association.
  • Serve kale chips or other vegetable-based chips.
  • Set out nuts that need to be shelled, like pistachios. (It takes longer to eat them, thus limiting the amount you'll devour.)

A Few More Worthy Super Bowl Recipes

Other recipes we thought sounded healthy (or at least healthier) and delicious: Creamy Spinach Feta Dip, Mini Salmon Sliders, Southwestern Layered Bean Dip, Spicy Chipotle White Bean Dip, Feta-Stuffed Mushrooms and Skinny Cocktails.  

(MORE: 3 Health Resolutions You Can Actually Keep in 2015)

You can also improve your Super Bowl eating stats by starting out the day with exercise, which will stoke your metabolism so you'll burn more calories, says Steve Feyrer-Melk, director of patient wellness at Optimal Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.


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