Super Bowl Sunday means super-sized calories but dietitians say don’t fret over it

The Super Bowl party is a leading excuse to gorge, and it can be filled with innocent-looking caloric landmines. But if it’s just one day of indulgence, it is not the end of the world, Augusta dietitians say.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Super Bowl Sunday and its over-the-top food celebrations are the second-biggest day for eating, behind only Thanksgiving. With typical fare of chicken wings, pizza, chips and dips, beer, and soda, it is easy to consume 2,400 calories and 121 grams of fat during the big game, according to the Calorie Control Council.

People are often surprised when they learn just how many calories are in common party foods, said Angie Johnson, a registered dietitian with University Hospital Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery Center.

“For example, when I bring up the calories in an innocent little chicken wing, it can be on average 100-150 calories (a wing),” she said. “They are just flabbergasted when I start showing them the calories in (party fare) because all of those foods are calorically dense. You can pack a lot of calories in a very small amount.”

The USDA estimates a billion wings will be consumed during the Super Bowl.

Another potential pitfall is cheese dip, said Patricia Skolnik, clinical nutrition manager for Doctors Hospital of Augusta.

“It’s very easy to take just a little bit more each time you have some because it is so tasty, and it is very easy to eat a lot of calories mindlessly when you are having stuff like chips and dips, especially when it’s a cheese dip or something with meat in it,” she said.

Healthier options like the veggie tray can also have a hazard in the middle, in the form of a higher-calorie dip, said Andy Yurechko, registered dietitian with AU Health System.

“Every two tablespoons of creamy dressing like that can easily add 150 calories,” he said. “Two tablespoons isn’t a lot, so that can definitely add up.”

And an atmosphere where people are concentrating on the game, the commercials or the conversation and not what is going into their mouths can be “a recipe for calorie disaster, to say the least,” Johnson said.

Skolnik agrees.

“Especially in a party-type environment, we can very easily lose track of how much we are actually eating,” she said.

Even when people are trying to watch what they eat, they can forget that seemingly better choices, such as light beer, can also have an added effect, Yurechko said.

“While they have fewer calories, the more you drink of that, the more it can kind of trigger your hunger,” he said.

n-alcoholic Even nonalcoholic choices like some sodas can add 150-200 calories a can, Yurechko said.

“Liquid calories are liquid calories,” he said.

So perhaps the best approach is to go into the party with more clear-eyed goals, Johnson said.

“One thing I emphasize to people is to not set unrealistic expectations for yourself, to know that there will be times and situations throughout the year that you will have those days where you overindulge,” she said. “There is a freedom to allowing yourself to enjoy those situations and not turn it into a negative experience that you end up beating yourself up for.”

The best bet is to shrug it off and begin with a clean slate, Skolnik said.

“If they get off track, it is not the end of the world,” she said. “You can always start fresh and start over the very next day.”

 

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com

GAME PLAN: CONSUME WITH CARE

Augusta dietitians say a Super Bowl party does not have to be the end to your vow to lose weight and eat better this year. Here are some of their helpful tips:

• Don’t starve yourself before the party or try to save yourself for the event, because that makes it more likely you will overeat and overindulge. If possible, have a small mini-meal of healthier fare, such as a salad or other fruits and veggies beforehand. A meal replacement shake, particularly one that is high in protein, can help you feel more full and make the party fare less tempting.

• Try using a smaller plate or limit yourself to one plate, which will help with portion sizes.

• If possible, keep the food in a separate room instead of right in front of people in the viewing area, to cut down on mindless snacking.

• Be mindful of what you are drinking as well as what you are eating because those calories count as well.

• If possible, plan for the extra calories. Try to eat better in the days following and get more exercise to help burn the excess calories.

ADD IT UP

Some typical foods served at Super Bowl parties can pack surprising amounts of calories and total fat, according to CalorieKing. com:

• Chicken wings, batter-dipped and fried: 159 calories per wing, 10.7 grams fat

• Domino’s heese pizza, 1 slice from a large pizza: 290 calories, 11 grams fat

• Nacho cheese dip, 1.1 oz., 50 calories, 4.5 grams fat

• Ranch dressing, 1 tablespoon, 73 calories, 7.7 grams fat

• Potato chips, Lay’s Classic, 1 oz., 160 calories, 10 grams fat

• Beer, American pale lager; 12 oz.. 145 calories

• Coca-Cola Classic, 7.5 oz., 90 calories

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