This weekend's Super Bowl is creating excitement around the big matchup on tap between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams. But even if you don't know a safety from a touchback, the game is a great excuse to cut loose on the diet, go wild on chips and dips, and spike nutritional common sense like a post-touchdown football.
It doesn't have to go that way, says Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian and cofounder of Culina Health, a nutrition coaching and online education service. By scouting the nutritional threats in traditional big-game party fare and making smart substitutions, you can have a tasty Super Bowl Sunday without any penalty flags being thrown at the buffet. Here are some trades to make, plus smart eating strategies no matter what's on the coffee table.
Go for baked chicken wings
The challenge: Traditional Buffalo wings are deep-fried, then tossed “with a ton of butter and some sodium-laden hot sauce,” Samuels says. “Not exactly the healthiest option for your heart, waistline or digestive system."
The fix: Swap deep-fried for baked, Samuels says. “Marinate your wings overnight in olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices. To get them crispy like the fried version, bake them on high heat."
Swap the chips
The challenge: “Chips are incredibly easy to overeat because most of them have absolutely no protein and fiber,” Samuels says. To make matters worse, she says, a large handful of chips contains more than 150 calories. “Multiply that times 10 and you have got a day's worth of calories in an appetizer.”
The fix: “There are a ton of healthy chip alternatives out there,” Samuel says, recommending bean-based chips like those from Beanitos or Beanfields. You can also make your own healthy chip from vegetables, she adds: Kale chips and crispy roasted chickpeas are great options. Or consider ditching chips for popcorn — a great alternative, Samuels says, because that snack is lower in fat and calories than chips, and higher in fiber and protein. Her favorite brands include Skinny Pop, Lesser Evil and Bjorn Qorn.