Develop a winning Big Bowl "food game plan" by thinking like a football player on the playing field. Only, instead of the opposing team, your field is filled with food and refreshments. Here are eight winning strategies:
1. Have a Game Plan
Plan a successful defense against food that is excessive in fat and calories:
- Equip yourself — include some lower-calorie drinks and munchies.
- Position yourself away from heaping platters.
- Go in knowing what you will eat. For example, choose to have the three choices you will enjoy the most. You don't have to eat some of everything just because it's there.
- Bring a healthier dip or appetizer to the football party. Try one of the recipes below.
2. Size up the Opponent
Look at the stats on different foods. Check for a Nutrition Label that tells how many calories per serving.
Eat food from a plate versus directly from a bag or box so you're not blindsided by the amount you're consuming.
3. Get in Condition
Lift a weights preferably at least twice a week and take walks. The sooner you start, the greater the benefits. Physical activity and added muscle boost your metabolism and burn calories.
4. Watch What You Eat Before the Game
Resist overloading on calories before the game. Keep a few calories in reserve so you can enjoy goodies later without guilt.
5. Avoid Penalties
Avoid later weight penalties from too many calories by choosing smaller portions.
Don’t let anyone get a penalty for drinking and driving. Remind your guests to have a designated driver and offer alcohol-free beverages.
6. Keep Yourself in the Game
Don't get taken out of the game because of food poisoning:
- Follow the "two-hour rule." Leaving perishable food at room temperature more than two hours is a big mistake. When food sits out for more than two hours, bacteria can easily multiply and cause foodborne illness. Set out small amounts of perishable foods and replace those with clean plates of food within two hours.
Or, keep hot foods hot (140°F or hotter) with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40°F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice or using party trays filled with ice.
7. Keep Advancing Toward the Goal Line
Pace yourself by alternating between higher and lower calorie foods.
Make a successful passing play by bypassing seconds at the buffet table or take half as much the second time around.
Take an occasional time-out to put a halt in your eating.
Plan an effective running (or walking) conditioning strategy. Bypass excessive food intakes and avoid penalties which keep you from moving toward the goal line, and you will score a successful Big Bowl "Game Plan for Healthy Eating."
Recipes for Game Day
Need a quick dip recipe or appetizer for the Big Bowl Game? Enjoy these recipes made from items commonly found in your fridge or cupboards. They're filled with nutrient-rich foods such as beans, cheese, and salsa. Serve dips with vegetables and whole grain chips or cracker dippers.
- Game Day Food Safety Tips, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This article was originally written by Alice Henneman, MS, RD. Updated and reviewed in 2021.