Christine Patrick, County Extension Agent – EFNEP
Are you one of the millions of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose weight? Then you must develop a game plan for snacking on Super Bowl Sunday. This event, which takes place on February 13, is one of the worst eating days of 2022. A typical party menu includes beer, soft drinks, sandwiches, pizza, wings, potato chips, nachos & cheese sauce, potato salad, and other fatty foods.
Whether you’re hosting a party or preparing food to take to someone else’s party, choose snacks that are minimally processed, high in fiber, and low in fat and added sugars. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (e.g., white breast meat of poultry without skin, beans, and seafood), and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products.
Small plates are a mealtime tradition among many Mediterranean countries, where a heart-healthy eating plan consists primarily of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices), and olive oil & canola oil replace butter, margarine, and other unhealthy fats.
Here are some advantages to downsizing from a dinner plate to a salad plate at parties and buffets:
- You can eat less and save about half the calories.
- A small scale looks full, so you don’t feel cheated.
- It encourages portion control. You take smaller portions and eat only the foods you like.
- You can clean your plate and feel satisfied without overeating.
Eat slowly and take time to enjoy the taste and textures of foods. Pay attention to how you feel. Instead of mindlessly eating hundreds—even thousands—of calories while watching the football game, use hunger and fullness cues to recognize when you’ve had enough. Before going back for seconds, wait 20 minutes for your food to “settle.” It takes that long for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full.
Although it seems messy and distasteful, you may want to let empty beverage containers, chicken bones, etc. accumulate on the table to remind you how much you have consumed. Researchers at Cornell University noted that people might eat and drink much more when there are no visual clues about how much they have finished. Researchers also observed that people take less food from a smaller bowl.
Here are some snacks that you can make a day ahead of time and store covered in the refrigerator:
- Dips & Fresh Veggie Plates – Choose six or seven fresh vegetables and two low-fat dips. Serve them on various small dishes placed around the room to generate interest and encourage people to eat more of them.
- Chips & Homemade Salsa – If you are serving chips: choose baked, whole-grain, or pita chips. Offer the chips with salsa so that more vegetables will be eaten. You can make a quick homemade salsa by blending no-salt-added canned tomatoes with a bit of hot pepper sauce. This salsa also is delicious with fresh veggies or warm rolled corn tortillas.
- Baked Tortilla Chips – To save money, make your own baked chips. Cut flour or corn tortillas into quarters. Mist with water or cooking sprays and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice (e.g., paprika, onion powder, or cumin). Bake tortilla wedges in a single layer on a baking pan at 350°F for about 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Enjoy with your favorite salsa or bean dip.
- Boneless Wings – Baked, boneless chicken breast strips are a healthier alternative to chicken wings. Make your boneless wings by dredging chicken strips in buttermilk (fat-free) and hot sauce to taste. Coat chicken strips in whole-wheat flour, to which a small amount of cornmeal has been added; bake in the oven instead of frying. Serve with fat-free barbecue sauce.
- Shrimp Cocktail – Chill cooked shrimp and serve with a spicy cocktail sauce. One large shrimp contains about 1 gram of protein and only five calories. Proteins take longer to digest, which keeps you satisfied longer.
- Fruit & Cheese Plate – Serve fruit with cube-size amounts of low-fat cheeses instead of the full-fat versions. And, skip the crackers!
The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.