For many football fans, the “Super Bowl spread” is as important as the game itself. Like all of the celebrations this past year, Super Bowl Sunday may have looked a little different, but there’s no need to forego participating in these traditional food fests.

If you’re trying to stick to your New Year’s resolution or new lifestyle change, the Super Bowl and upcoming birthdays, holidays, and celebrations need not derail these plans.

I share some of my tips on how to survive a food fest with KRON 4 Morning News Anchor Marty Gonzalez.

Work Out First

Get some exercise before the gathering starts. You’ll feel energized and positive about your healthy lifestyle habits. These feelings can help you stay on track when surrounded by all the food temptations. Also, be sure to stand up and move around instead of staying planted in one place.

Upgrade Your Snacks

Elevate the nutrition value of your favorite foods just by incorporating more vegetables. Nowadays, it’s pretty common to have a vegan in the group or someone who has certain dietary restrictions, but you can easily accommodate the different eating styles. Everyone benefits by upgrading the traditional snacks with more vegetables.

Veggies are water-rich, so they not only add more nutrients and antioxidants, they also add more water to your snack. That means, vegetables boost volume and fiber content, making your upgraded snacks more filling and satisfying.

For example, adding riced broccoli to your guacamole to make Broccamolemakes it less calorie dense and doubles it in size.

Other snack upgrades can include:

  • Three-bean chili with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and corn.
  • Soft taco bar (with marinated shredded chicken breast, a variety of beans, fish, cabbage slaw, salsa)
  • Buffalo chicken breast skewers with Greek bleu cheese dip (made with nonfat plain Greek yogurt)
  • Lasagna loaded down with less cheese and more veggies: e.g., spinach, baby bella mushrooms and marinara sauce made with grated sautéed carrots, onions, and riced broccoli.

Eat from a Plate

  • Eating from a plate will make you more aware of how much you’re consuming. Also, make it small plate.
  • If you’re eating out of the serving bowl or bag, it’s hard to know how much you’re eating before it’s all gone.

Load Up On Water

  • It’s important to stay hydrated. Your body may think it’s hungry, but often times it’s just thirsty.
  • Start drinking water before eating and before drinking any alcohol. Follow any alcoholic beverage with a bottle of water.
  • Your eyes will fire up your appetite. When you are faced with a variety of food, studies show that the appetite increases 23%.
  • This is even more reason to quench the initial desire to eat with water.

Be Mindful

  • Eat mindfully — but this can be difficult when you’re distracted by the TV. Be aware of your level of hunger and fullness.
  • Eat slowly and savor the aroma, flavors, and textures of the food on your plate. 
  • Take sips of water between bites. (This will require you to put down your fork too.) 
  • When you’re in a hyper-social environment, it’s easy to eat mindlessly. Keep tabs on your eating behavior, amounts of food consumed, and your feeling of fullness.

Have a Game Plan

  • Keep a visual on your plate — half with non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 whole grains or starchy vegetables.
  • If you’re the host, you have control over the menu and can be sure to have plenty of
  • Review your personal health goals prior to the game.
  • Repeat to yourself WHY you want to get healthy and WHY you’ve been putting in the effort to change your lifestyle. 

Karen’s Fit Tip:  There will always be a reason to celebrate with food, but learning to work these food-centered events into your life without fear of failure and deprivation is important.

It’s challenging, but very doable when you have a clear-cut goal and a plan.

Karen Owoc

Karen Owoc is a certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist specializing in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and lifestyle medicine. Her science-based approach to longevity, nutrition, and muscle health has made her the go-to source for health seekers and medical professionals alike. Karen's best-selling book on functional longevity, "Athletes in Aprons: The Nutrition Playbook to Break 100", and her transformative perspective have mended many minds, hearts, and spirits.

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