Are you among the 87% of Americans who will attend or host a Super Bowl party this Sunday? My love of football has admittedly waned in recent years, but I’m definitely all in on the commercials, the Puppy Bowl, and the snacks.

For many Americans, Super Bowl Sunday is as much a food holiday as it is a celebration of athleticism. In fact, an estimated 17.5 million Americans will enjoy the food holiday so much that they’ll call in sick to work on Monday.

But what if you’re trying to lose weight, eat healthily, or just make it to work on Monday without taking 75 Tums and 5 gulps of Pepto first? This post will give you a game plan for a healthier Super Bowl party.

Pregame

Your healthier Super Bowl party plan starts the moment you wake up on Sunday.

Eat Normally During the Day

Do you try to hoard your calories for the big event? Resist the urge, friend.

The worst thing you can do is show up to your Super Bowl party ravenous. Have you ever tried to eat dip in moderation when you’re so hungry you could gnaw off your arm? Not gonna happen.

Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast and a healthy, balanced lunch on Sunday, stopping at each of those meals when you’re 80% full. Be sure to load up on nonstarchy veggies at lunch, especially. This will help fill you up, and it will ensure that you get some good nutrients in even if you go off the rails at your party.

Need some healthy breakfast and lunch ideas? We’ve got a few for you here.

Get in a Workout

Sure, exercise burns some calories.

However, exercising on a food holiday does more than just add to your calorie bank. Small  studies suggest that vigorous aerobic exercise suppresses appetite by altering blood levels of two hunger hormones called ghrelin and peptide YY (1, 2).

Go for a run, or try this workout at home:

10 Rounds for Time:
10 Burpees
10 Situps
10 Pushups
10 Air Squats

Getting a workout in may help keep you from overindulging at the Super Bowl Party buffet.

Drink Lots of Water

Staying hydrated is always important, but it’s even more so on food holidays like Super Bowl Sunday.

At the very least, water helps keep your system running smoothly. The combo of salty foods and low fiber intake on Super Bowl Sunday leaves many partiers feeling puffy and constipated on Monday. Drinking enough water helps flush salt from the body and keeps your digestive system from slowing down.

There’s also some evidence that drinking water before meals can actually lower your calorie intake. For this reason, it’s helpful to down a glass or two before breakfast and lunch, and before hitting the Super Bowl buffet (3).

Make a Healthy Dish for the Potluck

The best way to be sure there’ll be something healthy to eat at your Super Bowl party is to bring something healthy to share.

It’s easy to lighten up foods like chili without compromising flavor (check out the white chicken chili on our recipe page!). At the very least, grab a veggie tray and some guac or hummus on the way to the party.

Need more ideas? Skinnytaste is my go-to for delicious party favorites that won’t derail your healthy eating progress.

At the Super Bowl Party

So you made it to the party. Don’t make a beeline for the buffet just yet…

Wait Until You’re Hungry

It’s difficult to stop eating when temptation abounds. One of the best and easiest ways to avoid overeating is to shorten your eating window.

The food isn’t going anywhere. Wait until you’re having physical signs of hunger, like a growling stomach.

Eat Veggies First

Remember that veggie tray you grabbed on the way to the party? That’s your first stop at the Super Bowl buffet. Eat two handfuls of veggies before putting anything else on your plate, and chase it with a glass of water.

This is going to be your approach every time you visit the buffet. If you go back for seconds after a round of food, start with a serving of veggies and some water.

Position Yourself Away from the Buffet

Are the Cheetos whispering your name? Then get out of earshot!

It’s all too easy to overeat when you park yourself next to the table, whether you just can’t resist the urge or you’re mindlessly grazing while visiting with friends. Creating some distance between yourself and the food may prevent you from overeating.

Skip What You Don’t Love

I fully believe that you can enjoy your favorite Super Bowl party foods, even when you’re trying to eat healthily. In the grand scheme of things, one day of indulgence is not a big deal.

That said, there is one category of foods that I’m going to forbid you from eating. You are not allowed to eat foods that you don’t love on Super Bowl Sunday (except for veggies–you gotta eat those no matter what). Save the belly room and calories for foods you do enjoy, and eat those foods until you’re satisfied but not stuffed.

Take it Easy on the Booze

As someone who enjoys a good cocktail, I’d be a hypocrite if I told you not to drink at your Super Bowl party.

Still, it’s best to take it easy on the booze. On the front end, alcoholic beverages come at a calorie cost of 65 calories for one ounce of vodka to hundreds of calories for some mixed drinks. A single margarita, for example, could account 20% or more of the recommended daily calorie intake for some athletes.

Then, there’s the collateral damage. Alcohol crosses the blood-brain barrier easily and impacts the regions of the brain responsible for impulse control and decision making. Round of jello shots and a White Castle eating contest at halftime after a few beers? Don’t mind if I do…

For these reasons (and to increase the odds that you’ll make it to work on Monday), it’s best to stick to just a drink or two at your Super Bowl party. At the very least, limit your drinking to when you’re eating food, and sip a glass or two of water after each drink (and of course, call an Uber or designate a driver).

Now, friends, I’d love to hear from you. What foods are you looking forward to at your Super Bowl party? What are your thoughts on the halftime lineup, and are you rooting for the Niners or the Chiefs? Chime in in the comments.