By Mary Perry
Next to Thanksgiving, Superbowl Sunday is the second most popular day to consume an abundance of food. Americans consume about 15,000 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn on this day. No wonder only one-third makes it to the end of January sticking to their resolutions! Whether you have religiously stuck to your News Year’s goals or were waiting for Feb. 1 to start anew, the Superbowl doesn’t have to be an excuse to blow everything you’ve been working toward. Here are some tips to navigate this eating event without sabotaging your efforts.
- Bring something: If you’re not sure what type of foods will be at the party, bring something you know you can eat, whether it’s veggies and a low-calorie dip, guacamole, chicken chili (recipe below) or your favorite Zone-friendly dessert.
- Don’t go hungry: Some people try to avoid eating breakfast and lunch in an effort to bank their calories when they know they are going to a party. This usually doesn’t work because you may override your hunger signals and end up eating way too much. Instead, eat a lighter breakfast and lunch and have a small snack with a little protein prior to leaving (one-half a piece of fruit and string cheese). This will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and give you more will power to avoid tempting foods you might have otherwise over-indulged on.
- Fill up on volume: Since you may be at the party for four to six hours, space out what you are going to have. I find that the best stuff tends to appear on the table around half-time so try not to fill up too quickly. If you didn’t have a chance to bring something like veggies and dip or a healthier option to complement the guacamole, don’t worry. Grab a small plate of one or two things so at least you can be mindful of what you are eating rather than eating while standing or continuing to go back and forth to a dish without thinking about it.
- Pick your favorites: How many times have you been at a party and finished an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre that you didn’t even like. Instead of grabbing a little bit of everything, try to pick a smaller portion of the top two or three things you would like to have and stick with it. Look for things that have protein as they’ll have more sticking power instead of making you go back for more. People tend to consume more foods when they take a little of everything versus having a select few.
- Don’t beat yourself up: If you find that you didn’t do as well as you could have, don’t beat yourself up. Congratulate yourself on what you did right, whether it was bringing something with you, not showing up hungry or filling up on lower-calorie alternatives first. Remember, tomorrow is a new day and just start fresh at your next meal.
- Switch from regular beer to light beer.
- Have a glass of water or a calorie-free beverage in between every alcoholic beverage to reduce your alcohol intake.
- Try to avoid mixed drinks, but if it’s your pleasure, have diet coke instead of regular coke, use club soda, seltzer water or diet tonic in place of regular tonic water and try substituting four fluid ounces of tomato juice or 100 percent juice in place of syrup. Be careful because mixed drinks can easily be 200-400 calories.
Since this may be a day you’ll indulge a bit more than usual, try to get some pre-game energy expenditure into the mix, whether it’s hitting the gym, going for a walk, or even playing your own game of touch football with your friends!
Here is one recipe sure to keep you in the Zone. Not only is it packed with protein and fiber, but it provides 25 percent of your daily value for vitamin C, calcium and iron. You can’t beat that!
Chicken Sausage Chili
20 ounces (about eight) chicken sausages, spicy, smoked or regular, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed, and their juices
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
6 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese, garnish
In a large pot, brown sausage stirring continuously for about five minutes. Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook, stirring often, until soft, about four minutes. Add beer to remove any cooked-on residue, cooking until foam subsides, about one minute.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and kidney beans to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle each serving with grated cheese and serve hot.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving: 400 calories, 11 grams fat, 3.5 gram saturated fat, 80mg cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate and 29g of protein.
*To lower the sodium content further, consider substituting fresh chicken or ground turkey in place of sausage and limit the salt to taste.