What doesn’t bend will eventually break. If your nutrition regimen is so strict that it allows for zero flexibility, you’re far more likely to binge eat, create an unhealthy relationship with food and feel deprived. I hope you realize that none of those three side-effects are desirable results, or ones you’d associate with a sustainable lifestyle.
Cultivating a healthy, high quality of life and reaching your goals is a long-term game, and consistency is key. I’ve compiled tried-and-true strategies and suggestions to help you enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday while keeping your nutrition goals in mind.
Eat before you hit the party! Don’t show up starving so that you only eat the things you really want. In your meals/snacks prior to the game, load up on veggies and lean proteins to help your body feel satisfied of those valuable nutrients. By eating something before you arrive, you’ll only want to eat something there if it’s absolutely worth it.
Make your indulgences worth it. Splurge a little on the really good stuff, not store-bought cookies or so-so potato salad. Consider that every time you eat, you’re making a choice. You’re saying “this is good fuel for my body, and/or what I want to spend my calories/macros on today.” Do you feel confident saying that about a crappy, store-bought cookie? Make your indulgences count.
There are plenty of foods that don’t seem indulgent that you may eat at while watching the game that you wouldn’t ordinarily, like a hot dog bun, or nachos. I challenge you to be mindful in your choices and eat things you really want, not just because they’re there.
Skip the hamburger or hot dog bun, wrap it in lettuce or eat it naked.
Feel free to pack your plate, but then don’t go back for a second helping.
Pickles have ton of salt, so snack some of those instead of potato chips for the salty satisfaction without the extra carbs and oils.
Use your hand as a guide; have only that much (in size) of any potato, egg, or chicken salad. Aim for a minimum palm size of protein, and a thumb size of sauce or dip.
Drinks lots of water: it will make you feel more full (and is really good for you, bonus!). Flavored sparkling water is a great substitution for soda or alcoholic drinks.
Distance yourself from the temptation by picking a seat that’s not near the food table.
Chew gum so you don’t nibble on something just for the sake of nibbling.
Bring one of your favorite healthy dishes to share, so you’re in control of at least one item available to snack on.
Don’t think about what you can’t/shouldn’t eat, instead add more good stuff! Pack on the veggies, fruit, and wholesome ingredients to whatever you’re eating -- which in turn, makes less room for the junk, both on your plate and in your belly.
Look for better options, regardless of the options you’re given: when possible, pick leaner proteins like chicken, turkey or fish over beef.
Moderation is key. Let’s say you eat 4 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. That’s 28 times you eat in a given week. Now if you “cheat” or eat something less than ideal for one of those meals, that’s not even 4% of all the food you ate in those 7 days. I can assure you that in most cases, if you’re doing something quite well 96% of the time, the 4% won’t make a huge detrimental impact to your overall success. LeBron James, one of the best basketball players of all time, has a career shooting average of only about 50%. If he misses almost half the shots he makes and is still that good, you’ll be okay going a little off track on one meal in a week.
Get right back on track Monday! Don’t let your flexible Sunday evening turn into an off-track week. The problem most people have with getting off track is the ability to get back ON track. A “cheat” meal is that: a meal. If you choose to have all of the food, calorie, indulging freedom during the game, keep it to a meal and remember that the next meal, and next day, should go right back to normal. In this situation, it can be really helpful to have your next meal planned. Your body may crave sugar or extra calories a little more once you’ve given it some, so already having a healthy meal in mind and the ingredients on hand helps you steer your wagon in the right direction quickly, and avoid detours.
Enjoying yourself without guilt isn’t an easy feat, but I encourage you to embrace life balance. Your nutrition goals, friends and family, and happiness will thank you for it.