Feb. 2, 2010 -- On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans will eat an estimated 30 million slices of pizza, according to Papa John's Pizzeria. But not every slice -- or wing, or whatever else you pile in your mouth -- has to be a caloric calamity. Don't let your diet take a hit; save that for the guys on the field instead. Instead, follow these healthy food swaps and enjoy a great Super Bowl party.
Wings can feed an army of people for cheap, which is why they're included at any pregame party. But be careful: A half-dozen wings fried in batter will cost you more than 900 calories; the same amount of roasted wings still adds up to 650. If you're anticipating an extra victory beer, go with skinless wings, at about 250 calories per serving.
For an even better pregame dish that doesn't sacrifice flavor, grab a bowl of chili. Not only will it clock in at less than 300 calories, but the protein and the fiber found in a hearty bowl of red work together to fill your belly and prevent the mindless munching that football -- and all of those high-budget commercials -- encourage.
Last year, it was reported that vegetables were the No. 1 food eaten in homes during the previous three Super Bowls. Certainly a welcome sign, but what's more important is how you eat those veggies. They're a great source of nutrients, but don't sabotage your diet with monstrous portions of dip. Here's how to get the most bang out of your veggies: Instead of buying a traditional bleu cheese dip, make a low-calorie mix with cottage cheese, white horseradish, and seasoning.
And how's this for bonus veggie power: According to new research, vegetables like carrots contain carotenoids, which help to increase yellow skin tones, making your skin appear darker and healthier. Who knew watching football could give you a tan?
More from Men's Health:
Somewhere between the brick ovens of Italy and the delivery cars of America, something went horribly wrong. Our pies are now tricked out with inflated crusts, four-cheese toppings, and a surplus of pepperoni,. And with 69,000 pizza joints scattered across the U.S., we easily devour 350 slices per second. That's enough to cover 75 football fields each day!
But we know you need a few slices while you're dissecting the game plan with your buddies, so here's our advice: Stay true to pizza's roots and think Italian. Only 9 percent of Italy's population is obese, compared with 34 percent in the U.S. Want to know their secret? Italian pies have thin crusts, half the cheese, and extra veggies. Any way you slice it, just keep your order simple -- that means no Meat Lover's -- to stay in Super Bowl shape.
Chips and Dip
Dips are essential to a winning football menu, but consider this your warning: Even the healthiest options can add up to plenty of calories. If you do indulge, go for the guacamole instead of cheese dip. You can make your own by mashing up real avocado, fresh garlic, minced onion, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. All out of guac? Then swap for regular salsa. Lay's Smooth Ranch will penalize you 60 calories with every dip (2 tablespoons), but a scoop of Ortega Thick & Chunky Salsa is a nutritional first down: 2 tablespoons are only 10 calories each.
Tempting as it may be -- especially if your team scores an opening touchdown -- you should wait until the second quarter to drink your first beer. Here's why: In a recent study, Dutch researchers gave people a premeal serving of booze, food, water, or nothing. Those who had the booze spent more time eating, began feeling full later in the meal, and as a result ate an average of 192 extra calories.
Once you do crack open that brew, make sure you get the most flavor for your calories. Beer labels don't list calories, so let us help: Drink a Guinness Draught, which is smooth and refreshing at 125 calories. Compare that to the 124-calorie Sam Adams Light, and you're getting a real, full-flavored beer instead of a lesser, lighter beer for only one measly extra calorie.
More from Men's Health:
When it comes to cold cuts and condiments, get creative. Too many great spreads go overlooked while mayo and oil drive calorie counts through the roof. Try hummus, mustard, vinegar or even a cranberry spread for a delicious, diet-safe change of pace. For an easy calorie reduction and nutrient boost, always go open-faced with wheat bread. As for your meats, ham, turkey, and roast beef all have similar calorie and fat counts. Throw on a strip of bacon or two for a savory splurge: At only 42 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat each, your waistline can afford it for the big game.
Want to make your sandwich even leaner? Skip the cheese. (Like you really taste it anyway.) Don't forget to cut the meat in half and add veggies like pickles and peppers to flavor it up.
More from Men's Health: