HCA Healthcare’s game plan for a healthier Super Bowl

Overhead view of a table with food and hands reaching into a bowl of chips

Today marks the biggest event in sports – Super Bowl LIII. And whether you’ll watch the game for the theatrics – East Coast versus West Coast; dynasty (Patriots) versus upstarts (Rams) or the veteran (Tom Brady) against the newcomer (Jared Goff) – the event is sure to work up an appetite.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Super Bowl ranks as the second highest day of food consumption in the nation.

Elise Thompson, a registered dietitian at HCA Healthcare’s TriStar Centennial Medical Center, has a few tips to keep the food safe, leave your guests feeling full, and show them that they, too, can defy the odds at any age (ala Tom Brady).

Tip #1: Position yourself away from the snack table

Use smaller scoops (think “spoonful” instead of “scoop-full”) and smaller plates to help place modest portions on your plate. Remember, you can always go back for seconds.

Set boundaries around how many trips you will allow yourself to make to the buffet table, and stick to it.

Tip #2: Avoid foul play with food safety

Keep hot food hot by using a chafing dish (these can be found for less than $10 on Amazon or Party City).

Keep cold food cold. Put snacks such as shrimp cocktail or fruit on an ice-bed serving tray or back in the fridge until halftime.

Remember, if temperature-dependent food such as meats, fruits, dips, or cheeses sit at room temperature for longer than two hours, bacteria can begin to grow that can potentially cause food-borne illness. When in doubt, don’t eat it.

Tip #3: Don’t sit on the sidelines because of heartburn

An illustration of a man experiencing heartburn

Foods high in fat can contribute to heartburn, so watch your portions of fried foods, chips, heavy desserts, and high-fat meats found in “pigs in a blanket” or pork/hamburger sliders – football favorites.

Alcohol can also cause heartburn in some individuals, so be especially mindful when pairing high-fat tailgating foods with alcoholic beverages.

Tip #4: Try not to blitz the carbs on the table

It can be tempting (and very easy!) to build a plate consisting of only carbohydrates (chips, cookies, rolls, casseroles). Knowing this, make intentional choices to diversify your plate.

Food options including unbreaded chicken wings, shrimp cocktail, and lettuce wrap pinwheels can be a great way to incorporate more lean protein on your plate to help you feel full. That way you won’t feel the need to keep revisiting the buffet table.

Aim to pick up healthy carbohydrates from the veggie platter or fruit tray, and remember to eat modest portions of the processed carbohydrates (i.e. chips, desserts).

Tip #5: Respect the line of scrimmage with alcoholic beverages

Overhead view of three cocktails being clinked together

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation – up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

Alcohol can be high in calories. Therefore, choose light beer instead of a lager or a spiked seltzer rather than a margarita to offset the heavier super bowl snacks.

Remember, the Super Bowl is typically 4 hours long. If you intend to drink, plan for a designated driver or to catch a ride-sharing service.

Bonus: Tip #6: Perform like Tom Brady (on the field AND in the kitchen)

No matter who you’re rooting for, we can all admit that an athlete still playing professionally at 41 years old must be doing something right. And Tom Brady attributes much of his success and longevity to a refined diet.

While there may not be evidenced-based research to support all of his “alkaline dietary choices,” many of the guidelines in the Super Bowl champ’s diet plan are ones that health professionals would agree with.

Avoiding white sugar and caffeine while focusing on hydrating appropriately and eating more fruits and vegetables is a resolution everyone could make in 2019.

Woman wearing gray button down shirt. Headshot of Elise Thompson.

Elise Thompson, RD, LDN, CDE, is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator, at TriStar Centennial Medical Center, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, in Nashville, Tenn. Read Elise’s take on some of the top wellness trends of 2019 here.  

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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