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A Solid Game Plan: Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Super Bowl

Last updated: February 1, 2024

Gathering for the Super Bowl is a beloved annual tradition for many — whether you savor the drama of the game or you’re just there for the commercials and half-time show.

Of course, part of the draw of the big game is enjoying food with family and friends. The great news is that you can stay on track with health goals while still savoring tasty football fare. It just takes a few tweaks.

With occasions like the Super Bowl, remind yourself that it’s not all or nothing. Give yourself some grace if you stray a bit from your healthy lifestyle goals. At the same time, a game plan can help you enjoy the day in a balanced way. For tips, we talked with Lori Knapp, a Clinical Dietitian with ThedaCare Bariatrics.

Pre-Game

Taking a few steps early in the day can help ensure you stay on track later on.

  • Fuel up: Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch so you’re not famished when game time arrives.
  • Incorporate activity into your day: The average Super Bowl lasts more than three hours — or longer if you’re watching the pre- and post-game. That can add up to a lot of sitting. To balance out the sedentary time, try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity before the game.

Game Time

Get your head in the game with a solid plan. If you have a favorite indulgence — say a pulled pork sandwich or a small dessert — that’s OK. The key is to pick just one and savor it. For the rest, try to fill your plate with healthy options. These include whole grains, fruits and veggies, and plant-based or lean proteins.

A word on beverages: An average 12-ounce regular beer contains about 150 calories. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. A can of regular soda is 150 calories as well, and it can contain nearly 40 grams (or 9 teaspoons) of sugar. Try alternatives to soda, such as seltzer, a low-sugar mocktail, or infused water.

Now for the fun part: meal planning. There’s no shortage of healthy yet delicious (and easy!) dishes that you can add to your table. Knapp offers a few ideas:

  • Sweet potato nachos: Instead of traditional nachos, try baking thinly sliced sweet potatoes and topping them with black beans, diced tomatoes, avocado, and a sprinkle of cheese.
  • Veggie kabobs: Thread various colorful vegetables — such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms — onto skewers and grill to perfection.
  • Stuffed bell peppers: Fill halved bell peppers with a savory mix of quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes, and seasonings. Bake until tender and top with shredded cheese.
  • Crispy baked cauliflower bites: Skip the tater tots and try these instead. Coat cauliflower florets in a mixture of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and spices. Bake until crispy and golden brown.
  • Spiced roasted chickpeas: Sayonara, chips! Instead, toss chickpeas with olive oil and your favorite spices, and then roast until crunchy.
  • Guacamole deviled eggs: Combine the creamy goodness of guacamole with deviled eggs, garnished with a sprinkle of paprika.
  • Mango salsa: Dice ripe mangoes and mix them with red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime juice for a refreshing and tangy salsa. It’s delicious on its own, or enjoy with a few baked tortilla chips — store bought or make your own.
  • Cucumber avocado salad: Toss together cucumber and avocado chunks with lemon juice and fresh herbs for a cooling and nutrient-packed side dish.
  • Greek yogurt fruit dip: Who doesn’t crave a sweet finish? For a healthy option, blend Greek yogurt with honey and a hint of vanilla for a delightful dip to accompany fresh fruit slices.

Post-Game

“Staying committed to healthy choices is a long game,” Knapp says. “If you indulge more than you would have liked on Super Bowl Sunday, acknowledge the feeling, let it go, and recommit to your healthy habits. Guilt serves no one, and one less-than-optimal day will not derail your progress.”

Special Teams

For some people, weight management remains difficult despite their best efforts. 

If your weight loss game is stalled, help is available. The comprehensive team at ThedaCare Bariatrics can work with you to determine the weight loss options that best meet your needs.

Tags: bariatrics healthy foods healthy lifestyle Super Bowl Weight Management

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