By: Rebecca Mason, RDN
While I’d never suggest completely dropping game day traditions such as burgers, nachos and hot wings, I’m here to share my playbook for making the “big game” menu a little bit lighter. The goal of these top five plays is a better-for-you menu that will have you feeling good while cheering on your favorite team, instead of slumping on the sofa feeling drowsy and overstuffed.
- Kick off with veggies.
Your first play of the game? Fill up on veggies. I don’t mean setting out a boring, cold crudité platter. Make your produce flavorful and fun, and serve up some baked buffalo cauliflower with blue cheese sauce. By starting with zesty, vitamin- and fiber-packed appetizers, you’ll feel satisfied—sans buffalo salsa queso dip.
- Make portions a key play.
Sometimes it’s not what you eat, but how much. Play defense against overeating and pre-portion your treats. By keeping servings bite-sized, you can enjoy your favorites in moderation. Give these Mexican potato skin bites a try, or make your favorite treats in miniature sizes. The possibilities are endless: mac and cheese bites, individual nachos or mini pizzas.
- Pass on fried foods.
It wouldn’t be a watch party without hot wings. Instead of fumbling with the fryer this year, try baking those wings. Deep-fried foods contain more calories and fat than their baked counterparts, and for those of us trying to watch our waistlines or fat intake, fried foods can pose quite the roadblock. By baking, you effectively reduce fat and feel better about America’s signature, saucy snack.
- Serve dip like a pro.
Did you know you can get all the cheesy, gooey flavors you crave with a smaller impact on your caloric bottom line? Try using reduced fat cream cheese instead of regular, low sodium broth instead of oil and nonfat Greek yogurt in place of regular sour cream. This buffalo chicken dip uses reduced fat cream cheese and stays warm in a crock pot. Serve it with a variety of fresh veggies and enjoy.
- Sip smarter.
Staying hydrated can stave off false hunger and help you cut overall calorie consumption. Try drinking one glass of water for every alcoholic drink or sugary beverage you consume. Bonus tip: remember that recommendations are to limit to one alcoholic drink per day for women, and two for men.
Most importantly—enjoy yourself, the game and your company. Remember: all things in moderation. A little bit of planning and creativity could make you the MVP of game day eats.
About the Author: Rebecca Mason, RDN, is a registered dietitian and Health and Wellness Coordinator in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. She is passionate about helping families and individuals improve their health through nutrition education and nutritious food access. Rebecca is certified in adult weight management and has a background in both clinical nutrition and wellness programming.