What an RDN Eats at a Super Bowl Party

I’ll be honest, I don’t like football — but I love the Super Bowl! Any excuse to gather with friends and family makes me happy, and I always look forward to the commercials, half-time show, and, of course, the food. Unfortunately, the types of food and the sheer volume of it at the typical Super Bowl party is overwhelming. Some research even suggests that the average American may consume upwards of 8,000 calories in beer, chips, pizza, and other food at a Super Bowl spread. That’s four times the average 2,000 calories a day recommended by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Knowing this, I enter Super Bowl Sunday mindfully and still enjoy my favorite celebratory foods, only in moderation. If you’re trying to eat healthier, a Super Bowl party can be a bit of a challenge, though.

How to Avoid Overeating During the Super Bowl

You can and should enjoy the Super Bowl party without feeling guilty about your food choices, but balance is key. You can enjoy the foods you love without going totally overboard to the tune of 8,000 calories! Here are my top tips for making good choices at your next Super Bowl party:

1. Don't Go Hungry

Eating a small, healthy snack or a healthy serving of fruits or vegetables before you go to the party can help curb your appetite and prevent you from overeating.

2. Dip Veggies, Not Chips

Vegetables are much lower-calorie than chips or crackers, and a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which means they’ll fill you up faster than processed snacks. Try cutting up carrots, celery, bell peppers, and cucumbers for dipping in hummus, salsa, or guacamole.

3. Be on Portion Patrol

The score isn’t the only thing you should keep track of on game day. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re at a party, but try to be mindful of how much you’re eating. Use a small plate and take small portions of the foods you want to try instead of mindlessly grazing.

4. Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol is high in calories and void of nutrients and can make you eat more than you would otherwise. Stick to one or two drinks to keep your calorie intake in check.

5. BYO

If you're worried about the food options at the party, bring your own healthy dish to share. This way, you’ll know there’s at least one healthy option you can enjoy. Some ideas include a big salad, quinoa bowl, or veggie platter. Or you can make healthier versions of classic game-day foods, like turkey chili or Buffalo cauliflower bites instead of wings. (Spoiler alert: recipe below!)

6. Enjoy Yourself!

Don’t forget the reason you came: The game (and for some, the commercials) and the company are the main events, not the food.

A Healthy Super Bowl Appetizer

Chicken wings are one of the most popular Super Bowl snacks. The National Chicken Council estimated that Americans ate more than 1.4 billion chicken wings at last year’s Super Bowl.

You may think, with the small amount of meat on them, how bad can they be? Well, wings are a triple threat because they’re usually deep fried and smothered in a sugary or sodium-laden sauce, which makes them a concentrated source of calories, saturated fats, and sodium. You’ll get 89 calories, 2.1 grams (g) of saturated fat, and 259 milligrams (mg) of sodium from just one chicken wing, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Eat six and you’ve reached your daily recommended limit for saturated fat and are two-thirds of the way to the recommended daily limit for sodium (PDF) according to the American Heart Association. And that’s not including bleu cheese or ranch dressing.

Another reason to skip this app: Chicken wings are incredibly expensive right now. While an August 2022 report (PDF) from the USDA shows that the price per pound of chicken wings has been decreasing since its height in July 2021, I’m not seeing those decreases reflected at my local restaurants — are you? For example, the best wing spot near me now charges $22.50 per dozen wings and has actually added the option of ordering a half-dozen to keep the price at a more reasonable $12.50 (or $2.08 per wing).

Why are chicken wings so expensive? It seems to be the perfect storm of situations. First, there’s inflation, which has been greatly increasing the cost of all food in the grocery store. Then, it comes down to simple supply and demand. A chicken only has two wings and, while the wings are separated into two edible parts each — the wingette and drumette — that’s just four wing pieces per bird. In other words, it takes three chickens to make a dozen wings. At the same time, supply has been affected by the avian flu crisis that has infected and led to the death of more than 58 million chickens according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Going wing-free doesn’t have to mean going flavor-free, however! This simple baked Buffalo cauliflower recipe is a great compromise, and vegan-friendly, too. Happy snacking!

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