Snacking Healthy on Super Bowl Sunday

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Published February 04, 2007

| FoxNews.com

Less than a month has gone by since you proclaimed your New Years resolution of "really losing weight this year," and yet with the Super Bowl quickly approaching, your weight loss success plan appears doomed to get sacked.

Super Bowl Sunday is a little like Thanksgiving – a time to get together with friends and family, share some laughs, over indulge in all the heavy foods we love but don't allow ourselves to usually eat (at least in public), and last but certainly not least, watch lots of football.

Whether we are football fans during the regular season or not, we usually turn into instant devotees come Super Sunday.

Why? Well, as much as we would like to say it's for the football, the real motivator is the food! Everyone loves an excuse to eat, eat, eat, and throwing a Super Bowl party is the perfect excuse!

The Super Bowl is truly the number one snacking event of the year. According to The Snack Food Association, an industry trade group, Super Bowl snackers consume 11 million pounds of potato chips, 13.2 million pounds of avocados (mostly in guacamole), 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips and 3.8 million pounds of popcorn.

Perhaps you have contributed to these statistics in the past; and perhaps, despite your desire to live a healthier life in 2007, you don't want to spend this Super Bowl nibbling on rabbit food while everyone else is elbows deep in wings, chips, dips and chili. Well, with a few key culinary interceptions, you too can go the whole nine yards without sabotaging your weight loss program or sacrificing the urge to munch.

Here are seven tasty, low fat, snack food change-ups to try out this year:

Instead of: Popcorn drenched in butter and cheese

Try: Air popped popcorn tossed with fresh limejuice and chili powder for a festive kick

Instead of: Cheese puffs, nacho cheese chips and potato chips

Try: Homemade party chex mix using less salt and oil, and more whole grain cereals, pretzels, with just a sprinkling of nuts

Instead of: Nachos smothered in melted cheese, meat chili and sour cream

Try: Baked tortilla chips topped with black bean chili, salsa and low-fat sour cream

Instead of: Yellow cheese dip and creamy artichoke dip served with chips

Try: Roasted garlic hummus or a three-bean dip served with crackers and baby carrots

Instead of: Meatball, roast beef, or ham and cheese subs on white bread

Try: Muti-grain pita pockets filled with turkey, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, green peppers and spicy mustard

Instead of: Pepperoni pizza ordered from the local pizza joint

Try: Homemade individualized pizzas on whole wheat english muffins topped with caramelized onions and goat cheese, or spinach and feta

Instead of: Cookies, brownies and ice cream bars

Try: Chocolate angel food cup cakes with a caramel topping, fresh fruit salad over 2 percent Greek style yogurt, drizzled with honey, or light strawberry frozen yogurt milk shakes

Eating lighter, tasty foods is one way to avoid unnecessary calorie and fat intake this Super Bowl, but to really make sure you make it through the weekend without busting your belt buckle, be game to follow these tips:

Keep moving. Rather than sitting on the couch and mindlessly eating more than you need to-- especially during the commercial breaks-- take advantage of the dead time and physically move yourself away from the snack area as often as you can.

Any type of additional movement and exercise you can squeeze in will also help offset potential weight gain.

Stay hydrated. Alternate your normal Super Bowl high calorie beverage with a glass of water. Drinking plenty of water will flush your system, keep you hydrated and give you the sense of feeling full to prevent overeating.

Basic training. Try and stick to your normal eating and exercise routines. Eat at your regular meal times and make sure to adhere to your regular exercise regimen. Don't skip out on your daily walk or jog just because it is Super Sunday.

Spice it up. Studies show that spicing up your food increases metabolic rates and aids speedy digestion. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili powder to your appetizers this year to jumpstart your metabolism and give your food more flavor and flair.

Stick to your call. Even if the other members of your family are not into your new and improved Super Bowl spread, don't get pressured into your old ways. Make a separate snack food table for yourself and let the others do their own thing. Not everyone has to be on your team.

Although it is not easy being the underdog when it comes to the biggest snacking event of the year, keeping your long-term weight goals your number one priority will send your team flying into the end zone and scoring the most important touch down of all – "really losing the weight."

Make sure to check out Dr. Manny's broadcast from the Super Bowl this weekend.

Foxnews.com Health contributor Kyle Ellen Nuse contributed to this report.

For more great information on living healthy through every decade of life, click here to check out Dr. Manny's book The Check List (Harper Collins, 2007).

Dr. Manny Alvarez is the managing editor of health news at FOXNews.com, and is a regular medical contributor on the FOX News Channel. He is chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Additionally, Alvarez is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

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