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Popular Super Bowl Foods and How to Make Them Healthy

Millions of people gather together to watch one of the most anticipated professional sports games of the year. Whether you’re there for the game, the halftime show, or neither, you can always count on a big food spread. In fact, the Super Bowl is the second-highest eating day in America—just behind Thanksgiving.

The temptation to overindulge is real. But Sarah Zou, MPH, a clinical dietitian at the Osher Center for Integrative Health at University of Utah, says to focus on the event and not the food.

“Whether the purpose the gathering is to watch to game or hang out with friends or family, the food is like an accessory,” Zou says. “Don’t focus or stress about it.”

Zou also advises not to go to a party on an empty stomach or graze over several hours.

“Think of it more as a normal meal by making a plate of all the things you want to try,” she says. “Once the plate is gone, assess your hunger level. Chances are, you won’t be hungry again until at least halftime.”

And there are always ways to improve. Here are four popular Super Bowl foods and how to make them healthier.

1. Wings

About 1.25 billion chicken wings are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday every year, according to Restaurantware. What makes chicken wings unhealthy is their skin and the cooking method—particularly deep frying.

Healthy alternatives:  

  • Bake your chicken wings in the oven or use an air fryer.
  • Peel the skin off and enjoy the meat.
  • Ditch the wing altogether and opt for an unbreaded chicken tender.

2. Pizza

A thick crust, lots of cheese, and certain toppings can really add on to your fat calorie intake. Pizza usually has a lot of high fat and highly processed proteins such as pepperoni and Italian sausage.

Healthy alternatives:

  • Opt for a thin or whole grain crust.
  • Choose ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken for your protein. Don’t forget about those fresh veggies.
  • Hold back on the heavy cheese. Ask for light cheese if ordering take out.

3. Chips and Dip

About 11.2 million pounds of potato chips and 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips are purchased for Super Bowl Sunday. Those salty potato chips and dips like sour cream or queso are the fatty culprits here.

Healthy alternatives:

  • Swap the chips for a baked whole-grain tortilla chips or a 100% corn chips.
  • Ditch sour cream for non-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream instead.
  • Serve a bean or salsa dip.
  • Dip with veggies.
  • Watch your portion size.

4. Nachos

“Nachos can actually be really healthy,” Zou says. “It’s a good go-to dinner if nothing is prepared. The key is choosing healthy ingredients.” Make sure to include a protein to balance out all the chips.

Healthy alternatives:

  • Swap ground beef with ground turkey or beans.
  • Add a lot of veggies like peppers, tomatoes, corn, or mushrooms.
  • Be mindful of the cheese. A quarter cup or two ounces of cheese is the recommended serving size per person per meal.
  • Replace sour cream with avocado.