My husband loves football. I love parties. So the Super Bowl is the one day a year when our interests happily meet. I love Super Bowl recipes, but I don't want to make our party a four-hour marathon of fat-filled dips, salty chips and calorie-rich drinks. So this year, I'm giving our party a healthier spin. And the best part is that it will be so subtle, no one will even notice. Touchdown!
Here are 5 sneaky tips for throwing a healthy Super Bowl party:
1. Create a Food-Free Space
Create a food-free space where your guests can mingle. Research shows that when food is nearby and visible, it increases your chances of eating that food. It's the old "out of sight, out of mind" principle. Keeping snacks in another room will help everyone save calories. Plus not having the bowl of chips in front of the TV will curb mindless eating.
2. Offer Low-Calorie Foods First
Instead of bringing out the chicken wings right away, offer lower-calorie foods during the first half of the game, such as a spread of fresh veggies and a lightened-up dip. Science suggests that when you're hungry, you're more likely to choose and overeat starchy foods. And other studies have found that people tend to eat the largest quantity of the foods they eat first. You'll still be able to enjoy the classic Super Bowl foods, but you won't eat as much of them since you filled up on the healthy stuff first.
3. Give Classic Super Bowl Recipes a Healthy Spin
Chips, dips, wings and pizza are a few Super Bowl foods that you shouldn't go without-even if you're throwing a healthy Super Bowl party. It's pretty easy to make even the unhealthiest of foods better for you by making a few simple swaps. Use nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for creamy dips. Opt for cooking Buffalo-marinated chicken tenders instead of chicken wings: you'll still get that finger-licking yumminess that wings offer while slashing your intake of saturated fat and sodium. And skip the local pizza delivery; instead, make your own healthier and tastier pizza at home. You can make the dough ahead, leaving just the topping and baking for game day.
4. Downsize Your Dishes
Downsize serving bowls from large to medium. One study found that people serving themselves from a large bowl took 77 percent more food than those using a medium-size bowl. Serve up the tortilla chips in a medium bowl rather than a large one. Same goes for the guacamole: serve that in a small bowl. You can always refill it if you need to. Also, offer your guests small plates rather than large ones. Why? We all have a tendency to load our plates. Studies show that smaller plates will visually trick your guests into thinking they're getting more food than they are.
5. Be Drink Aware
If you're drinking, choose taller skinny glasses instead of short wide ones. In a recent study of college students, as much as 30 percent more liquor was poured into tumblers than highball glasses. No skinny glasses? Premix drinks in pitchers for guests or provide a measured shot glass (1½ ounces) to help them keep track of their liquor intake. (This will also help you save money, as alcohol is often the most expensive part of throwing a party!) And don't forget to supply plenty of water to help your guests stay hydrated.
By Hilary Meyer
EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.