Today marks the biggest event in sports – Super Bowl LIII. And whether you’ll watch the game for the theatrics – East Coast versus West Coast; dynasty (Patriots) versus upstarts (Rams) or the veteran (Tom Brady) against the newcomer (Jared Goff) – the event is sure to work up an appetite.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Super Bowl ranks as the second highest day of food consumption in the nation.
Elise Thompson, a registered dietitian at HCA Healthcare’s TriStar Centennial Medical Center, has a few tips to keep the food safe, leave your guests feeling full, and show them that they, too, can defy the odds at any age (ala Tom Brady).
Tip #1: Position yourself away from the snack table
Use smaller scoops (think “spoonful” instead of “scoop-full”) and smaller plates to help place modest portions on your plate. Remember, you can always go back for seconds.
Set boundaries around how many trips you will allow yourself to make to the buffet table, and stick to it.
Tip #2: Avoid foul play with food safety
Keep hot food hot by using a chafing dish (these can be found for less than $10 on Amazon or Party City).
Keep cold food cold. Put snacks such as shrimp cocktail or fruit on an ice-bed serving tray or back in the fridge until halftime.
Remember, if temperature-dependent food such as meats, fruits, dips, or cheeses sit at room temperature for longer than two hours, bacteria can begin to grow that can potentially cause food-borne illness. When in doubt, don’t eat it.
Tip #3: Don’t sit on the sidelines because of heartburn
Foods high in fat can contribute to heartburn, so watch your portions of fried foods, chips, heavy desserts, and high-fat meats found in “pigs in a blanket” or pork/hamburger sliders – football favorites.
Alcohol can also cause heartburn in some individuals, so be especially mindful when pairing high-fat tailgating foods with alcoholic beverages.
Tip #4: Try not to blitz the carbs on the table
It can be tempting (and very easy!) to build a plate consisting of only carbohydrates (chips, cookies, rolls, casseroles). Knowing this, make intentional choices to diversify your plate.
Food options including unbreaded chicken wings, shrimp cocktail, and lettuce wrap pinwheels can be a great way to incorporate more lean protein on your plate to help you feel full. That way you won’t feel the need to keep revisiting the buffet table.
Aim to pick up healthy carbohydrates from the veggie platter or fruit tray, and remember to eat modest portions of the processed carbohydrates (i.e. chips, desserts).
Tip #5: Respect the line of scrimmage with alcoholic beverages
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation – up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Alcohol can be high in calories. Therefore, choose light beer instead of a lager or a spiked seltzer rather than a margarita to offset the heavier super bowl snacks.
Remember, the Super Bowl is typically 4 hours long. If you intend to drink, plan for a designated driver or to catch a ride-sharing service.
Bonus: Tip #6: Perform like Tom Brady (on the field AND in the kitchen)
No matter who you’re rooting for, we can all admit that an athlete still playing professionally at 41 years old must be doing something right. And Tom Brady attributes much of his success and longevity to a refined diet.
While there may not be evidenced-based research to support all of his “alkaline dietary choices,” many of the guidelines in the Super Bowl champ’s diet plan are ones that health professionals would agree with.
Avoiding white sugar and caffeine while focusing on hydrating appropriately and eating more fruits and vegetables is a resolution everyone could make in 2019.
Elise Thompson, RD, LDN, CDE, is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator, at TriStar Centennial Medical Center, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, in Nashville, Tenn. Read Elise’s take on some of the top wellness trends of 2019 here.