It is easy to lose track of the amount of food you are eating at a party. Especially when it involves watching TV, as many of us do during Super Bowl parties, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
“Plan a strategy before attending the party so that you can leave the feeling really good about what you consumed,” says Cynthia Cadieux, PhD, RDN, Associate Dean for Educational Assessment and Evaluation, Director of Medical and Health Professions Education, Associate Professor of School of Health Professions. “Instead of mindless eating, which results in overeating, pivot to mindful eating where you think about the food you consume and really enjoy the experience.”
Here are some additional dos and don’ts from Dr. Cadieux.
- Follow your normal eating pattern the day of the party. Skipping all of your meals to “save up” for the party is not a good strategy. The result is you arrive to the party famished and overeat.
- Bring a healthy, flavorful dish to share that you know you like. Super Bowl parties are notorious for unhealthy, high calorie foods and beverages. There are many ways to adapt an unhealthy recipe to a healthier version that still has the same flavor compounds and textures, just minus the fat and sugar.
- Look over all of your food choices before you make selections. Take your time and pick the healthiest options with the best flavors.
- Get your food and walk away from the table. Engage in conversations in a place other than the food table so you aren’t tempted to graze.
- Be afraid to turn down a pushy host or friend who pushes food and high calorie alcoholic beverages at you. You will feel better about yourself if you stay in control of your calorie, fat and sugar consumption.
- Drink too many calories. Specialty cocktails and beer pack a big calorie punch, as does coffee and tea with lots of added creamer and sugar. Bring a light sparkling beverage with you or just drink water.
- Feel guilty if you indulge on a few less-than-healthy items. Just minimize the amount you eat and pick the items you will most enjoy eating.
Almost every recipe can be adapted to be healthier and still maintain a burst of flavor. Instead of:
- Barbequed ribs or chicken wings, try slicing large Portobello mushrooms and cooking them in a sugar-free BBQ sauce.
- A typical pizza, experiment with a thinner crust (even one made out of cauliflower), a flavorful tomato sauce, veggie toppings and no cheese.
- High-fat dips, like cheese dips, try hummus or a veggie-packed guacamole or salsa dip.
- Chips fried in oil and high in sodium, try low-salt baked crackers and chips, or air-popped popcorn sprinkled with curry spice (or one of your favorite spices). If it is a crunchy texture you crave, raw veggies or roasted chickpeas are great.
- Piling on lots of high-fat toppings on your chili, swap sour cream for low-fat Greek yogurt and skip the grated cheese topping altogether.
In the spirit of the sport of football, there are many elite athletes, yes, even Tom Brady, who follow a whole food plant-based diet and obviously function at the top of their sport. Plant-based diets are anti-inflammatory, low in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium, are super flavorful, and are enjoying to eat because there is so much color on your plate. Give a whole food, plant-based diet a try!