Super Bowl party food need not send diets crashing

The Super Bowl party -- the place where diets go to die.


But it doesn't have to be a train wreck for those trying to lose weight with a little thinking ahead, some smart choices, and perhaps a little forgiveness, Augusta dietitians said.

Super Bowl Sunday is regarded as the second-biggest day for eating, behind only Thanksgiving, and it comes at an awkward time for many who vowed to lose weight in the new year.

"They go through January with not a lot of temptation," said Sarah Neal, a registered dietitian at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics. But then comes the Super Bowl, which has become a de facto holiday.

"I think any holiday is challenging, especially the Super Bowl," Neal said.

Part of it has to do with the high-fat, high-calorie foods associated with the traditional football party -- chicken wings, pizza, rich dips and chips, said Angie Johnson, a registered dietitian with the University Hospital Weight Management Center. The average person on Super Bowl Sunday eats 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat just in snacks, not counting any meals, according to the Calorie Control Council. Much of that is done mindlessly in front of the television, Johnson said.

"You have first of all your high-calorie, high-fat snacks in front of you while you're watching the game so you tend to just not pay attention to what you're eating because you're watching the game," she said. "It doesn't take much when you're eating the high-calorie, high-fat items to get a ton of calories in, especially if you're adding the fluid calories on top of that."

Particularly if it is alcohol, which is why Neal recommends keeping water or low-calorie drinks in hand. Sometimes it is deceptive, she said. What people think of as a healthy item, such as bean dip, can be secretly loaded with cheese and fat, Neal said. Chicken wings are also deceptive -- a single deep-fried wing can be more than 100 calories and have more than 7 grams of fat, according to

"It is also what you are using as condiments for those items, like the high-fat dressings you are dipping the buffalo wings in, or the high-sugar sauces you are adding to those things," Johnson said. Instead, try bringing a healthier item yourself, like a vegetable tray, so there is something there you can rely on, Neal said. There are also Web sites where you can look up healthier versions of fatty favorites, Johnson said.

If the temptation is too much and you do indulge, don't let it be a lasting defeat, she said. Instead, get back on your diet and try to exercise a little more to make up for the extra calories, Johnson said.

Starting tomorrow, of course.

Kick off your party with tasty appetizers
Super healthy food ideas for the game

The Super Bowl party does not have to spell doom for your diet, Augusta dietitians said. A little thinking ahead and smart choices can help:

  •  Don't show up hungry. Eat a little something before heading out -- a piece of fruit, a cup of soup or a small salad are good
  •  Plan to bring something to the party as a healthy option. A fresh fruit or vegetable platter, low-fat chips or low-fat black bean salsa or leaner chili will work. There are Web sites -- such as and -- that offer healthier versions of some Super Bowl favorites, such as wings and chili.
  •  If indulging in a high-calorie option, cut down on the portions and try to fill up the majority of the plate with healthier items. Go lightly on the condiments such as mayonnaise or salad dressing.
  • Keep foods out of the living room or viewing area, so you have to get up and go into another area to get it.
  • Try to eat slowly so that you allow time to feel full.
  •  Watch the liquid calories and avoid higher-sugar drinks. Limit alcohol as well.
  •  If too tempted so that you overindulge, pick up your diet again the next day and try to exercise a little more to help balance out the extra calories.

Sources: University Hospital Weight Management Center, Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics