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A healthy Super Bowl strategy to make you happier come Monday

Americans will eat more than 1.3 billion chicken wings,  12.5 million pizzas and 11.2 million pounds of potato chips on Super Bowl Sunday.

They’ll drink more than 325.5 million gallons of beer.

Talk about a cheat day!

Only Thanksgiving tops the Super Bowl when it comes to food consumption, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That raises the likelihood of overindulgence.

“If you live a healthy lifestyle, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of extra wings because you don’t have them every night, but in general you want to make sure you’re keeping things under wraps, even on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Shelby Braun, a nutritionist with the Independent Health Foundation Healthy Options program.

“It’s like you can go to a birthday party and have a slice of cake – just not the whole cake.”

If you decide to make Sunday a cheat day, there are ways to do so without an excessive celebration of fat, sugar and calories. Here’s how:

MAKE THE PRE-GAME COUNT

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may be among the most unpopular NFL players in Buffalo but even Bills fans respect his pre-game preparations. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

If you plan to attend or throw a Super Bowl party on Sunday, start with a nutritional game plan, Braun said. Eat healthy meals at home before the evening game and drink plenty of water. Consider a small, healthy snack right before party time – “such as an apple or a handful of raisins and nuts,” said Patricia Salzer, a registered dietitian and workplace wellness consultant at Univera Healthcare. Prepare a healthy dish or low-fat dip and bring it to the party if you’re headed out.

[RELATED RECIPES: See Super Bowl recipes from the Independent Health Foundation]

Decide beforehand how many wings and pizza you will eat, and how much alcohol you will drink. “A lot of people think, ‘If I don’t eat in the morning, I can have all my calories at night,’ but that backfires on you pretty quickly,” Braun said. “It’s best to stick with the consistency you usually have and go with it.”

BE A THOUGHTFUL HOST

"Be sure to keep your party guests hydrated by providing easy-to-access water," Holly R. Layer says.

If you host a party, be careful how you make, serve and lay out your food and drink, said Holly R. Layer, a fitness instructor, clinical dietitian at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda, and Refresh contributing online writer.

Drink: “While it’s perfectly fine to indulge in a beer or two during the game,” Layer said, “be sure to keep your party guests hydrated by providing easy-to-access water (tap, fridge pitcher or bottled) and alternative beverages like fruit-infused seltzer waters and unsweetened ice tea. Try setting up a ‘seltzer station’ with cherry-lime seltzer and a bottle of tart cherry juice concentrate; pour 1 tablespoon into glasses and fill with seltzer, ice and a lime.”

[RELATED STORY: See Holly R. Layer’s Super Bowl recipes]

Food: Think healthy ingredient swaps and portion sizes, all three nutrition experts said.

Start with low-fat ingredients for dips, like Greek yogurt, and sub in ground chicken or turkey in dishes often prepared with beef, Braun recommended. Use less meat and more peppers, onions and carrots to make Super Bowl chili. Dip sliced veggies instead of chips. Skewer, grill and serve fruits instead of meats.

Use smaller plates and small serving spoons for dips, Braun said. She and Layer also suggested using small cups for individual serving sizes of dips and salsas, which can lower calorie consumption and the risk of food-borne illnesses.

Location: “I wouldn’t put the spread in front of the TV where people can continually graze while the Super Bowl goes on,” Braun said. “Set it in a separate area so people have to make a conscious effort to get it.” This will give guests extra time to consider whether they want to leave the excitement of the game – or if they already feel full.

SURVEY THE PARTY FIELD

Look around at what's available and plan your choices before picking away. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News file photo)

Take a warm-up lap around the serving table to check out all the choices before you start snacking, Salzer said. “Don’t ride the bench next to the food table,” she said, “because you’ll be more inclined to mindlessly nibble. Move away from the table, walk around and mingle.”

USE CARE WITH ALCOHOL

Darker and higher alcohol beer tends to pack more calories. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

One 12-ounce glass of craft beer tends to range from about 150 to 250 calories, though darker, high-alcohol varieties can add 300 calories or more. “Beer is part of the football culture, I understand that,” Braun said. “Drinking water with your beer is important. Another big thing is making sure that you’re eating protein with any carbohydrate you’re taking in. You want to be safe with your alcohol consumption. And these are empty calories, so you need to be conscious of your intake.” Drunken driving can have serious consequences. Western New York has yet to approve Uber and other ride sharing, so make sure you’ll know how to safely get home from a party if you’ve been drinking.

EMPHASIZE THE GAME

“Focus on the non-edible aspects of your party, like decorations or games,” Layer said. “Set the mood with team-colored streamers or banners, and purchase color-coordinated plastic tableware at a local party store. Set up a Super Bowl squares game so guests can bet on the scores at the end of each quarter.” Find game ideas at printyourbrackets.com."

STAY HOPEFUL

Don’t beat yourself up too much the day after Super Bowl LI if you went overboard – especially if your favorite team lost (think early 1990s in these parts). People in cities with the losing team tend to eat 16 percent more saturated fat the day after the big game than on a typical Monday, according to a 2013 report in the journal Psychological Science, while fans of the winning squad eat 9 percent less.

“If anybody goes to excess and indulges, don’t be discouraged,” Braun said. “You just get back on the horse the following day, make healthy choices and keep moving on.”

Also know that you won’t be alone.

The 7-Eleven convenience store chain has reported that its antacid sales climb 20 percent the day after the Super Bowl.

email: refresh@buffnews.com

Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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