Sitting at a table at Buffalo Wild Wings in Augusta, James Schaffer and Mark Halvorsen seem a little stunned to learn that the chicken wings in the baskets just set before them run more than 100 calories apiece.
For Halvorsen, though, it is about balance in life.
“I work out so I can eat this way,” he said.
For the restaurant, the Super Bowl this Sunday is a super seller both in takeout before the game and in people packing the tables to watch the game there.
“To most restaurants, Mother’s Day is their big day,” General Manager Dave Bullock said. “The Super Bowl is our big day. This is our Mother’s Day.”
Wings and other goodies that make up the typical fare during the Super Bowl can pack a surprising amount of fat and calories, Augusta dietitians said. The average person will consume about 1,200 calories and more than 50 grams of fat just from snacking Sunday – and that’s not counting meals, the Calorie Control Council and the Snack Foods Association reported.
Being more mindful of what is going into your mouth, making smart substitutions for fat-laden items and maybe even trying to work in some football or other activity yourself can help limit the damage, dietitians said.
Much of the problem can come from what could be called “distracted eating” while mesmerized by the action of the game, said Johanna Whisenhunt, the clinical nutrition manager at Doctors Hospital.
“It’s very easy to eat hundreds of extra calories without paying attention,” she said.
Part of the problem is that there isn’t an actual meal at many parties, just extended snacking, said Rebecca Casey, a clinical dietitian at Georgia Regents Medical Center.
“When you’re there for several hours without actually sitting and eating a meal, you never reach a point of satiety or feeling full,” she said. “So you eat more.”
Many meats and fatty foods are calorie-dense because fat runs about 9 calories a gram versus 4 calories a gram for carbohydrates, Whisenhunt said, so sizes can be deceiving.
“People aren’t really aware that fat is so much denser in calories,” she said “You can pack in a lot of calories in a small volume of food.”
A 1-inch cube of cheddar cheese, for instance, averages 69 calories and 5.6 grams of fat, according to CalorieKing.com.
People can make a big difference for themselves in altering traditional recipes, such as substituting plain, no-fat yogurt for sour cream in dips, Casey said. Traditional sour cream averages 26 calories a tablespoon versus nine calories for fat-free versions, according to CalorieKing.
“There’s not much of a difference in taste or texture, so why not substitute because those are a lot of calories you just won’t miss,” Whisenhunt said. Baking or grilling instead of frying avoids adding unneeded calories to food, Casey said.
Be mindful of the liquid calories, too, Whisenhunt said.
“Your drinks, of course, are going to add calories, and you might not think of those at all,” she said,
If you are the host, offer diet alternatives and water to help guests trying to avoid a big calorie load, Casey said.
Keeping the food in a separate area from the viewing area can help prevent mindless grazing, Whisenhunt said.
“Out of sight, out of mind actually does help,” she said.
Although watching the football game can be fun, starting one yourself can reduce the calories, Whisenhunt said.
“You can only be so full if you are running around outside,” she said.