Super Bowl Sunday: A feast of football, calories and fat

Feb. 1, 2013, 12:05 p.m.

Americans will eat about about 30 million pounds of snacks this Sunday. (Flickr via jeffrey.kohn)

Super Bowl Sunday is a holiday for all intents and purposes, and like all our favorite holidays it often involves excessive drinking, eating and sitting. You may stand up occasionally to cheer for your favorite team or boo a bad referee call, but much of the day is spent mindlessly consuming calories.

With hours of beer drinking and consuming decadent snacks like potato skins and spinach dip, your calorie counter can roll upwards pretty quickly.

"Super Bowl is right up there with Thanksgiving really, " said Carole Bartolotto, a registered dietician at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

She said that Americans will eat about 30 million pounds of snacks this Sunday, with potato chips accounting for 11.2 million of those pounds. Typical gameday fare can include everything from fried chicken to hamburgers, not including the array of decadent snacks like potato skins, spinach dip and chips.

"It's really the snacking that gets a person," said Bartolotto. "Especially if it's not going your way, you can shovel down an ounce of potato chips in less than a minute."

The average person will consume 1200 calories during the Super Bowl this weekend; for some, the total amount of calories they should consume all day. In addition to all the temptation, Bartolotto said watching TV in itself is a risk factor for obesity because it's really easy to overindulge with unconscious eating.

But it's not all doom and gloom: There are a few ways you can cut down on calories and still enjoy the game day. Instead of watching Beyonce at halftime, sneak in a little exercise by geting outside to throw the football around with a few of your friends: It's a chance to work up a sweat and get out some excess competitive energy.

You can also limit your fat consumption by picking and choosing healthier Super Bowl snacks. Bartolotto recommends choosing baked chicken wings or chicken kabobs over fried chicken, and choosing snacks like popcorn and nuts over a handfull of tortilla chips.

Instead of buying a boring store-bought crudite platter that doesn't look enticing even to the most die-hard health nut, the dietician recommends making your own. Buy an assortment of snap peas, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots and make your own onion dip, combing the pre-made mix with greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Super Bowl Sunday can also mean a marathon of beer drinking, which can quickly increase your calorie consumption as well. Bartolotto said alcohol often leads to weight gain because it packs a lot of calories without making you feel full, while also stimulating your appetite. The alcohol is metabolized into a chemical that can also make it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it.

“It's kind of a triple whammy,” said Bartolotto of alcohol.

All of this considered, many people shrug off one day of over-indulgence because, after all, it is only one day. But Bartolotto said that even one-day binging can stretch out your stomach and make it more difficult for you to feel full in the future. The same goes for sugar consumption; eating a ton of cookies one day may make you be reaching for the cookie jar the rest of the week.

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