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16 Tips for a Healthier Game Day

Natalie
Stein
January 30, 2024
16 Tips for a Healthier Game Day
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In this article:

  • The Big Game is on Sunday. Game Day can be fun, exciting, and filled with high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
  • Here are 16 tips for a healthier game day.
  • Lark offers a friendly and encouraging program that can help you establish healthy habits to reach your goals 24/7 when you use the app.

The Big Game can be a fun and exciting event, but it can also include high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. These aren’t the best for weight loss or health, but you can make better choices that fit with your plan. Here are 16 tips for a healthier game day.

1. Check the menu

Make sure you know what food is going to be available where you’re watching the game.

  • Check the menu online or call ahead if you’re going to a restaurant.
  • Ask the hosts if you’re going to a party.
  • Make sure you know what you’ll be serving if you are the host.

Plan what you’ll eat. Think about the healthy foods that will make up most of what you eat. Consider whether you’ll want a special treat or two and, if so, which. That way, you won’t be caught off guard when it’s time to make a choice.

2. Bring yourself something healthy to eat

Think about what you’d like there to be, and make sure it’s there for you. For example, if you wish there’d be hard-boiled eggs, take one or two for yourself. Or, make enough for everyone and bring them to the party or serve them if you’re hosting the party.

3. Bring something healthy for everyone

What should you bring to the party? Instead of wine or dessert, try bringing something healthy for everyone. That way, you’re also making sure you have a healthy option for yourself. Here are some ideas for what to bring.

  • A fruit basket
  • A fruit or vegetable platter with a healthy dip, such as one made with pureed cooked cauliflower mixed with low-fat mozzarella and feta cheese, artichoke hearts, garlic, onion powder, and any other herbs and spices
  • A green salad with vinaigrette on the side

Here’s one you can try. Toss together lettuce, sliced radish, and sliced cucumbers. Top it with spicy shrimp grilled with Korean chili paste. Serve it with a vinaigrette.

4. Eat a healthy meal earlier in the day.

The coin toss to start the game is in the afternoon for most Americans. Eating a healthy meal earlier in the day can keep you from being too hungry at the start of the game. When you’re too hungry, you might make unhealthy choices, such as having large portions of high-calorie foods.

Here are a few examples of balanced meals.

  • Egg whites with vegetables and low-fat cheese on a piece of whole-grain toast
  • Oatmeal with chopped fruit and walnuts
  • Whole-grain tortilla with hummus, chicken, and a side salad

5. Make small changes

Small changes do add up. Here are some examples.

Original Choice Lower-Calorie Swap Approximate Calories Saved
1 chicken wing with skin
1 skinless chicken wing
40
3 ounces of fried, breaded shrimp
3 ounces of grilled shrimp
200
2 tablespoons of creamy mustard spread
2 tablespoons of yellow, deli, dijon, or spicy brown mustard
80
A small meatball sub
3 extra lean turkey meatballs
500
1 cup of beef chili
¾ cup vegetarian chili with beans
150
2 slices of pizza
Pizza on half of a whole-grain English muffin
300
Lettuce wrap with chicken and vegetables
2 egg rolls
150

6. Take smaller portions

Taking smaller portions is a great way to enjoy delicious foods while keeping tabs on your calories and carbs. Here are some ways to have similar foods in smaller portions.

  • Choose sliders instead of sandwiches
  • Split an item with a friend
  • Take one instead of two
  • Cut desserts in half

7. Use lighter dips

Spinach artichoke, French onion, ranch, blue cheese, and other creamy dips can be high in calories and fat. You can enjoy lighter dips that are still tasty. Here are some options.

  • Dips with a base of fat-free cottage cheese instead of cream cheese
  • Homemade or store-bought salsa
  • Broccomole, with cooked pureed broccoli substituting for some or all of the avocado in guacamole

Dipping vegetables instead of chips and crackers can also save a lot of calories.

8. Crunch lighter options

Chips and crackers are starchy and high in calories. Nuts are healthier, but a good portion size is just ½-1 ounce. Raw vegetables, roasted chickpeas or soybeans, and popcorn are some choices that are crunchy and far lower in calories. A 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn has 90 calories and is a perfect party snack.


Instead of nachos with chips, try roasting cauliflower or bell pepper strips and add melted low-fat cheese.

9.Choose alternatives to doughy foods

Party apps can have a lot of dough, and that can add a lot of calories and carbs. Here are some examples.

  • Appetizers in puff pastry
  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Pizza bites
  • Battered, fried mushrooms, cauliflower, shrimp, cheese, and chicken

Look for non-breaded options without pastry. Fresh fruits and vegetables, grilled chicken and shrimp, and hard-boiled eggs are good choices.

10. Consider condiments

You might automatically add condiments, toppings, and sauces to certain foods, but they may add calories, fat, and sugar that you hadn’t planned to have. Creamy mustard and dressings, cheese sauce, ground beef, and butter are examples. Skipping them, having less, or swapping

them for lighter toppings such as yellow mustard, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, and vinaigrette, can make a big difference in your daily total.

11. Practice portion control

If you’re hosting, you can encourage portion control in many ways. Here are some ideas.

  • Put out small plates and bowls for guests to use
  • Put out smaller serving utensils, such as regular-sized spoons and forks, so it’s easier to take less food
  • Set out knives when appropriate to encourage people to cut themselves a smaller amount of certain foods, such as taking half of a soft pretzel or a smaller piece of cake

You can still watch your portions if you’re attending a party or you’re at a restaurant. Here are some tips.

  • Seat yourself far from self-serve foods, such as olives, bread rolls, peanuts, and cookies
  • Before you start eating, pack up and put away any part of a restaurant order that you want to save for later
  • Use the smallest sizes of plates and bowls if you’re at a self-serve buffet

12. Select better beverages

Drinking water is healthy. Overdoing it on high-calorie beverages isn’t so healthy. While staying hydrated is important, it’s also important to choose beverages that’ll keep you on track with your weight loss and health goals.

Here are some low-calorie beverages.

  • Water, ice water, and sparkling water
  • Unsweetened black, green, white, or herbal tea
  • Black regular or decaf coffee

You can make them more festive by serving additions such as lemon wedges, cinnamon sticks, and cocoa powder.

Many typical game day beverages have calories, alcohol, and often carbs. Here are some examples.

  • Beer
  • Punch
  • Cocktails and mocktails

Alcohol doesn’t just have calories. It also can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels and increases the risk of accidents. If you choose to drink, keep it to no more than one per day for women or two per day for men.

13. Keep the event manageable

This is supposed to be a fun day, not a stressful one. Here are some ways to keep the event manageable.

  • Ask guests to bring dishes or beverages if you’re the host
  • Bring a healthy dish to share if you’re a guest
  • Use a rideshare app or carpool if you’re planning to drink or you don’t want to drive after the game ends

Keep in mind that you can’t affect the outcome of the game, so enjoy good play, and don’t let it bother you if your team doesn’t win.

14. Pace yourself

The game can easily last three hours. You’re sure to overeat if you eat during that whole time. Instead, consider limiting your calorie consumption by sticking to a schedule. Here’s an example.

  • First quarter: Raw vegetables with salsa
  • Second quarter: A small plate filled with mostly healthy, low-calorie foods, such as grilled shrimp and vegetable skewers
  • Half-time show: Dance and hydrate with water
  • Third quarter: A small plate or bowl of healthy foods, such as a shrimp taco and some greens
  • Fourth quarter: Fruit plus small portions of 1-2 of your favorite treats.

15. Play or train like an athlete

Take time to be active before you settle down to watch the game. Toss around a football or any kind of ball with your friends or children to get in the mood. If that’s not for you, just take a walk or do your regular workout. You’ll feel better and your blood sugar will be lower if you are active.

16. Skip overtime

When possible, get rid of high-calorie leftovers. Send guests home with items such as appetizers in puff pastry, cupcakes, dips, and chips. If you’re a guest, politely refuse offers of such foods. You don’t need those temptations in your home!

How Lark Can Help

Game day should be fun, and you can stay on track when you plan ahead. Lark can help as you make choices to enjoy the game and a Superbowl y party in healthy ways. Lark can be there 24/7 to remind you, cheer you on, and support you as you make healthy choices that can help you reach your goals.

Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!

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