Whether you are tuning in to watch the commercials, the halftime show, or the actual athletic event, one thing we can all agree on is that there needs to be plenty of food on the table during any big game.
The problem is, a lot of party spreads feature more calories than several linebackers should eat in one sitting. Plus, a lot of fan-favorite foods aren’t the most nutritious. One serving of meatballs made with beef and pork, for instance, gets you halfway toward your saturated fat limit for the day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Foods high in saturated fat can lead to elevated LDL-cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Other game day picks, like chips, dips, and wings, are packed with sodium. Just six boneless wings from Buffalo Wild Wings contain 1,260 milligrams (mg) of sodium, and that doesn’t even factor in sauces. The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to 2,300 mg per day, because in excess, sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
You can enjoy the festivities without sacrificing your nutritional goals, though. The following simple swaps can help.
- Switch from 80/20 ground beef to 93/7 to cut your saturated fat intake by almost half.
- Replace half the meat in your next burger, meatball or pasta sauce for finely chopped mushrooms, shredded zucchini, or tofu. Picky eaters won’t even notice.
- Swap in the beans and lentils in place of meat in your next quesadilla, taco, or pot of chili. Both beans and lentils are virtually fat-free, high in both fiber and protein.
- Switch out the full-fat condiments, such as mayo, sour cream, and cheese, for low-fat or nonfat options to lower your intake of saturated fat.
- Look for chips or crackers made from beans, lentils, nuts, or seeds. They typically contain higher amounts of both fiber and protein, which will fill you up faster than regular chips or crackers.
- Add plenty of color to your table by adding finger-friendly veggies. Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and baby bell peppers are ready to eat and don’t require any peeling or chopping.
- Replace the cookies and cakes with nature’s candy. Make rainbow fruit skewers or a delicious fruit salad to get your serving of fruit for the day!
When it comes to putting together a game-winning menu, we have 9 recipes that are healthier twists on every fan’s favorites. Check out our better-for-you beef sliders, crunch wraps, nachos, jalapeño poppers, guac, and more.