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How to Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday Without Ruining Your Diet

02/06/2011 03:34 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It seems that new year's resolutions are barely off our lips when we face our first big dieting challenge: Super Bowl Sunday. In terms of home parties, the Super Bowl ranks number one (even beating New Year's Eve celebrations), and it ranks number two in terms of Calorie consumption, second only to Thanksgiving Day feasts. Super Bowl fans consume 4,000 tons of popcorn, 14,000 tons of chips and approximately 3,200,000 pizzas1 -- but who's counting?

According to Elisabetta Poiti, director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, "People get very excited watching football, and they don't see what they're shoveling in their mouths. They eat out of excitement, stress, happiness, sadness, all the emotions that go along with watching the big game." Sounds like it doesn't matter whether you're on the winning team or not; all the emotions can lead to thousands of extra Calories and fat grams without even realizing it.

Couple that with the fact that the Calories you're burning from the sidelines of the living room couch are minimal (only about 100 Calories per hour for a 150-pound person) and you've got a potential diet disaster waiting to happen. But if you lay out a game plan ahead of time, you can still enjoy the excitement of the day without getting a red flag thrown on your new healthy lifestyle. Here's a few game day tips:

  1. Swap out chicken wings for boneless chicken tenders made from that same delicious hot sauce.
  2. Substitute salsas and dips made with a low-fat or fat-free sour cream for the high-fat dips and serve them with vegetable sticks or even baked snacks rather than their full-fat counterparts. Try my Football Vegetable Stadium.
  3. Make deli platters with lean sliced turkey, ham, roast beef, grilled chicken, low-fat cheeses and lots of lettuce and tomato instead of the processed deli meats.
  4. Make your own homemade pizzas using a light tomato sauce, light cheese and load on the veggies.
  5. Easy on the alcohol. Not only does it load you up quickly with a lot of empty Calories, but its effects can also reduce your ability to make healthy eating choices as the day goes on.
  6. Make homemade snack substitutions that are pre-portioned rather than snacking on the endless bowls of chips and vats of dips.

According to one Cornell University study that was carried out at an Illinois sports bar, people who ate from plates that had routinely been cleaned of used chicken bones ate 45 percent more chicken wings than those whose used chicken bones had been left on their plates. The left-over bones served as a reminder of how much they had eaten.

All in all, no matter which team you are rooting for on Super Bowl Sunday, you are going to be on the winning team if you work out some recipe swaps ahead of time and stick to the game plan. So unless you plan on running the length of 120 football fields to burn off your extra Calories, check out the fab-o-licious Super Bowl Snack recipes (below) that even your couch potato quarterback will love. Remember: eating healthy doesn't have to mean eating tasteless.

Favorite Super Bowl Snacks

1 Mozzarella stick 90 cal Kim's Mozzarella Sticks 48.5 cal
1 Potato Skin 70 cal Kim's Potato Skins 29 cal
1 Mini Pizza Roll 40 cal Kim's Italian Wontons 28 cal
1 Chicken Wing 94 cal Kim's Chicken Wings 40 cal
Pigs in a Blanket 69 calKim's Pigs in a Pillow 40 cal

(Calories are per piece and are based on a brand average... yikes!)

Source:
1"Mindless Eating," (Bantam 2006).