Family, friends, and food – this trio is one of my favorite combos. Add football to the mix and this becomes one of the best days of the year.
Runner up to Thanksgiving Day, Super Bowl Sunday has become the second biggest day for U.S food consumption. Whether you are a serious football fan, or if you are simply looking forward to the commercials and an entertaining half time show, it doesn't really matter. Come Super Bowl Sunday, the chances that you will be surrounded by an array of hoagie trays, a tower of buffalo wings, and a plethora of chips and dip is close to 100 percent.
After spending the last month trying to make healthy changes for the New Year, you face a common dilemma: Do you go all in, call the day "a wash", and wreak havoc on all of the progress you've made?
Here are 10 game day strategies that will help us all walk away with a win...
1. Start the day with a Super Bowl of your own: Instead of starving yourself all day to save calories, make an effort to eat nutrient-dense, satisfying meals leading up to the Super Bowl party. This will prevent you from showing up ravenous and scarfing down everything in sight. One good decision can often feed into the next. Get the positive momentum building in your favor with a hearty super bowl of Oatmeal with fresh berries, nuts and seeds.
2. Break a Sweat: You are about to watch the most fit and agile athletes in the world make some amazing plays — use this as inspiration! You owe it to your teams to break a sweat of your own. For all you superstitious sports fans out there, think of this pre-game workout as good luck.
3. Hydrate: Water is important for everyone, not just professional athletes – drink plenty of water during the day. While watching the game, match every beverage you consume with at least 1 glass of water. This will not only help you manage the amount of empty liquid calories you consume in the form beverages, but will also reduce mindless munching!
4. Make a Game Plan: Healthy eating is all about having a plan. When it comes to social events, a good rule of thumb is to take matters into your own hands by bringing something of your own that's healthy. Chili is a classic crowd pleaser and naturally boasts a satisfying trio of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats as well as nutrient dense vegetables. For an extra lean protein, try this Bison Chili recipe, or if you want to skip meat altogether, this Quick and Easy Veggie Chili is a great plant-strong option.
5. Trick Plays: Making something that everyone loves is always a confidence booster. Making something that everyone loves AND making it healthy (without them noticing) – now that calls for a victory dance so let's get sneaky! One of my go-to trick plays is to play with color. For example, we all love guacamole and have learned to embrace its green goodness. So, why not try Green Pea Guacamole, Edamame Guacamole, or Green Garbanzo Guacamole? By adding just one extra green ingredient, these recipes give your guac a boost of appetite-curbing protein and an extra dose of nutrition without anyone even blinking. My all-time favorite trick is to make Nacho "Geez" Sauce. Simply add a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of salsa or chipotles in adobo to kick it up a notch and you've got a healthy, dairy-free version of queso (…with hidden butternut squash!)
6. Anticipate the Opponent: In general, you know what to expect. There's going to be dips, tomato pie, pizza, wings, and soft pretzels galore. Know your personal strengths and weaknesses so come up with a strategy that plays to your strengths. Head-to-head matchups are a great way to stay ahead of the game: "For every wing I have, I am going to eat three celery sticks." If your healthy choices outnumber your not-so-healthy choices, you can walk away feeling proud.
7. Scan the Playing Field: Before you make a move and load your plate, assess your options. This is a great move to use in any family-style or buffet-style dining where you are overloaded with choices.
8. Visualize Success: After scanning the playing field, imagine a healthful plate in your head, and then make it a reality. That way, instead of loading your plate with a mishmash of everything and digging yourself a hole in the first quarter, you begin with a thoughtful, composed plate that will kick you off to a good start!
9. Use your Time Outs: Use commercials, time outs, and breaks between quarters to regroup. What have you eaten? Are you comfortably satisfied or uncomfortably full? Sounds like a silly question, but eating while watching a game can make it extremely easy to mindlessly munch. Use the natural structure and pauses of the football game to set your pace and take a moment to self-reflect.
10. Take Calculated Risks. It's the Super Bowl! Of course you are going to eat something that you don't normally eat on a regular basis, and that's totally fine. The key to indulging without any residual guilt or going completely overboard is to indulge mindfully. Be proactive, identify what you want to splurge on, and make it a SMART indulgence (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). Eyeing up those wings? Great, then go for it! But before you down a dozen, slow down, be present, and focus on eating with all your senses. Eating mindfully will not only heighten the experience and increase your overall satisfaction, but will also allow you to enjoy more, of less.
Lindsey's Nacho Upside-Down Bake
Flip your nachos upside down and bake them in the oven. You'll end up with a better topping-to-chip ratio so you can fill up on beans and veggies, and cut down on the chips without missing the crunch! Bonus: This casserole recipe makes for easy cooking, easy clean up, and easy transportation!
Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine all ingredients (except tortilla chips), reserving ¼ cup cilantro for garnish. Place mixture in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, covered. Remove from oven. Crumble corn tortilla chips on top, return to oven, uncovered and bake until chips are crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Scoop a serving onto a plate. Drizzle with Nacho Geez Sauce and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
Lindsey Kane is a Registered Dietitian and Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods Markets in Philadelphia. For more nutrition tips and recipes, visit her blog at healthylivingwithlindsey.tumblr.com.