No wonder the biggest game of the year is called the Super Bowl. Most viewing parties are stocked with heaping bowls of chips and dips and chili. And then there's the food served on plates. (And in bags...and boxes...and cartons...)
In the face of temptation, it doesn't help that distractions like TV lead people to eat more, according to a 2011 University of Birmingham study. Not only is it hard to count crackers while your eyes are glued to a crucial penalty kick, but a close game can trigger stress. The result? Your body spews out the hormone ghrelin, which stokes your appetite and sends your hand diving into the bag of Doritos.
You might not know which team will take the trophy-or whether Beyonce will lip-sync her half-time show. But you can bet you'll be the loser if you don't make smart snack choices during game. To feel like a champion on Super Bowl Sunday, skip these 10 super-bad snacks. Instead, indulge in less-offensive-but still tasty!—swaps culled by registered dietician Tanya Zuckerbrot, author of The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories & Fat Disappear—with Fiber!.
Bad: Buffalo Wings
Buffalo wings aren't just deep-fried: they're prepared with the chicken skin on for double trouble in terms of fat and calories. According to Zuckerbrot, an order of buffalo wings can pack nearly 1700 calories and 50 grams of fat-and that's before the blue cheese dressing!
Better: Baked Boneless Buffalo Wings
Bake boneless chicken breast strips instead of frying them, and coat with a mixture of hot pepper sauce, corn starch, white vinegar, and cayenne pepper. For a dip that doesn't destroy your diet: swap blue cheese dressing for low-fat ranch.
Bad: Sour Cream and Onion Dip
Sour cream is stuffed with saturated fat. And because it goes so well with greasy potato chips, you're bound to double dip.
Hummus is made from high-fiber chickpeas, so it will keep you full longer for than the sour cream dip. Look for a premade brand that clocks in under 60 calories for two tablespoons, and dip carrots, whole wheat tortilla chips or toasted wedges of whole grain pita.
These flavor boosters are packed with health perks. Here, the healthiest condiments at the supermarket, including peanut butter, hummus, and many more.
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Bad: Meatball Sub
According to Zuckerbrot, a six-inch meatball marinara sub can contain upwards of 750 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, and 50 mg of cholesterol. Meaning? You'll be left with fewer calories (and less room!) to splurge on other snacks.
Better: Mini Meatball Sliders
To mitigate the damage, make your own batch of meatballs with lean ground white turkey and tomato sauce. Swapping beef or pork meatballs for lean turkey can save you roughly 500 calories, 10 gram of saturated fat, and 20 grams of cholesterol per 10 meatballs, says Zuckerbrot, who recommends serving on a toothpick or mini hamburger buns for easy handling.
Bad: Classic 7-Layered Dip
A cup of typical 7-layered dip-a calorie bomb of sour cream, guacamole, salsa, ground beef, refried beans, shredded cheese, and olives-weighs in at about 700 calories and 80 grams of fat. Without the chips.
Better: Light 7-Layer Dip
Cut that almost in half by making yours with black beans; reduced-fat sour cream mixed with fat-free Greek yogurt; homemade guacamole; salsa; and chopped lettuce. Then garnish with low-fat shredded cheddar cheese. And skip the meat. You won't miss it.
Bad: Spicy Nacho Cheese Chips
Spicy Nacho Cheese Doritos have about 140 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving, which for the record, is just 12 chips.
Better: Spicy Edamame
Swap the chips for edamame and you don't have to stop at 12. While a filling 1/2 cup serving clocks in at about 200 calories, the soy protein is low in fat and high in vitamins, and way more filling than a handful of chips, says Zuckerbrot. Buy the beans frozen, and boil them in water for a few minutes. Then drain and toss in a skillet with a sprinkle of salt, chili powder, and red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
Bad: French Fries
An order of French fries can contain nearly 600 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 5 grams of saturated fat, according to Zuckerbrot. The culprit: a deep fryer.
Better: Oven-Baked "Fries"
To get your fry-fix: Toss fry-shaped potato pieces with a drizzle of olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake until crisp in a 350 degrees F oven, shaking the pan to turn the fries every 10 minutes.
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Bad: Batter-Fried Shrimp
Expect to see seafood in the starting lineup at any New Orleans-themed get-together. Again, the criminal is the cooking style, which turns otherwise-innocent shrimp into a dietary disaster. Deep-fried shrimp is typically coated in a batter made from egg and milk before it's floured and tossed into the fryer.
Better: Spicy Creole Shrimp Skewers
Shrimp skewers are low in calories, high in protein, plus easy to prep and serve, says Zuckerbrot. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes in a skillet with non-stick cooking spray, tobacco sauce, white wine, and freshly chopped parsley. The best part? The snack clocks in at only 53 calories and 0 grams of fat per 5 large shrimp.
The last thing you want is a sugar low when tempting snacks are at arm's reach—and onscreen during each commercial break. But you can bet on low energy and the grumbles if you spend the first quarter of the game filling up on gummies, chocolate bars, or other sugary sweets; they're full of empty calories without the fiber and protein that keep you full.
Better: Trail Mix
A trail mix is a standard crowd-pleaser for good reason: It caters to fans of both sweet and salty. Make your own mix with almonds, microwave popcorn, dried fruit such as raisins or chopped apricots, and dark chocolate chips. Almonds contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber for fullness, and healthy unsaturated fats. A handful of this DIY trail mix clocks in at about 100 nutritionally-dense calories, says Zuckerbrot.
Bad: Fully-Loaded Nachos
According to Zuckerbrot, nachos topped with cheese and chili can be over 1,000 calories, 107 grams of fat, and 40 grams of saturated fat.
Better: Turkey Chili
Instead of making chips the main attraction, opt for warm turkey chili made with lean ground turkey instead of ground beef, red kidney beans, green pepper, onion, and celery. Then garnish with the chips, and top with diced onion, a tablespoon of low-fat sour cream or cheddar cheese. You'll save nearly 600 calories and 90 grams of fat, according to Zuckerbrot.
Bad: Crab Cakes
Classic crab cakes are often filled with fattening fillers and deep-fried, making them a less then healthy appetizer option. Just one fried crab cake will cost you 290 calories and 19g fat, and that's before the creamy dipping sauce, says Zuckerbrot.
Better: Shrimp Cocktail
Instead, reach for waistline-friendly shrimp cocktail. One serving (5 large shrimp and 2 tablespoons cocktail sauce) is only 45 calories and 0g fat. And it's a great source of lean protein, so it will keep you satisfied until dinner is served.
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