Through out my nutrition and endurance athlete journey, I have kept a common saying.....if you eat well most of the time, you don't have to worry about the rest of the time.
I think it would be semi pointless for me to tell you about the statistics of super bowl and food consumption. But, I'll share just a few facts that I found on
"In a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association of more than 1,000 people, 31 percent said that they will be ordering delivery or take-out, while an additional 12 million people — mostly West Coasters due to the earlier kick-off time — are expected to watch the big game at a restaurant or bar."
On the website, the top 5 must-have food items were listed in order as:
1) Salsa, dips and spreads
2) Chicken Wings
"...The National Chicken Council predicts Americans will consume 1.25 billion wings on game day. That's over 100 million pounds of bird. According to the council's press release, "If the wings were laid end-to-end they would circle the circumference of the Earth — more than twice — a distance that would reach approximately a quarter of the way to the moon." Yowza. That's a lot of chicken wings."
"more pies are sold on Super Bowl Sunday then any other day of the year. The big three — Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Papa John's — will see the most sales. Pizza Hut anticipates selling 2 million pies, Domino's predicts 1 million, and Papa John's expects to deliver 9 million slices."
With hundreds of tips as to how to cut, save and decrease calories around the holidays, it is no surprise that there are also hundreds of tips as to how to cut, save and decrease calories around events. Yes, that is right. As a society, every celebration revolves around food whether it is celebrating an upcoming Ironman, finishing a marathon, graduating from any grade, birthdays, valentines day, sporting events.....need I go on?
Although selecting a few "healthier" dishes will allow you to feel a sense of consistency and balance during a special occasion where food is involved, I think you'd agree with me when I say that that our society isn't becoming any healthier despite learning how to save a few hundred calories during these special events. If anything, I would think that people become more "obsessed" with calories around these special events, despite considering that consistency is key when reaching personal weight and fitness goals.
Although I am proud to be where I am in my journey of life, it has taken a while to learn how to prioritize consistency over anything "extreme" when it comes to training and eating. I believe the most important part of my journey is developing a healthy relationship with food and eliminating negative food and body vocabulary such as good, bad, fat, skinny, cheat or off-limits. I can only hear it now as to how many people will be batteling the voices in their head on Sunday "I know I shouldn't eat this, but...." Or "I'm being so BAD right now, but I'll be good tomorrow".
The human body is amazing. If you respect the body, it'll give you the rewards you are seeking. However, anything too extreme and the body will find it's own way of not letting you move closer to your goals.
Karel and I love the opportunity to try new foods when we travel. Although we love fresh produce and heart-healthy selections, we do not gravitate towards my typical trimarni creations when we eat out. Knowing that we will continue to crave and consume wholesome and balanced meals and snacks when we return from traveling, we enjoy local pizza or mexican from a college town, a special bakery dessert from a family-owned restaurant or a filling breakfast at a local eatery.
You see, with balance in nutrition and exercise, there is no black or white, right or wrong way of doing things. For if you "indulge" a little for a day or two every now and then, you have the right tools and mindset to get back into your "typical" routine. The problem with our society, however, is that many people feel too controlled by their normal routine that they don't know how to welcome change. Because of this, there is no "adjusting" when it comes to changing eating habits to rebound from eating more than normal (which may be necessary after high volume/high intensity training or just due to low blood sugar and feeling lack of control with eating) as well as learning how to respect the body with periodized training.
Although I am excited to share a few of my creations in order to get you excited to get into your kitchen for the Super Bowl, I hope that as you are reading this blog, you are thinking to yourself...."starting today, I am really going to start appreciating the food that I put into my body on a daily basis and I will continue to learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food". Additionally, keep in mind that the body loves to move and doesn't really care if you stick to your training schedule every now and then. The most important thing is that you consistently nourishing and rewarding your body with wholesome food and a healthy dose of exercise...alongside a positive attitude and love for your one and only body.
As you enjoy some of the following recipes, in addition to your typical Super Bowl spread, consider mindful eating as you embrace one of many festivities surrounded by food.
Eating is pleasurable but it is also necessary. It is a healthy and normal way to satisfy hunger. Just like you don't lose fitness in a few days "off" from training, your body doesn't gain weight from one or two days, here and there (throughout the year or every few months) from overeating more than normal. Although may people (athletes included) have a hard time understanding what is "normal" for their body, mindful eating allows you to be attentive to what you are eating and how much, as well as feeling satisfied when consuming those food choices. When you eat mindfully, eating until stuffed is not an option. You hold yourself accountable of feeling satisfied with more pleasurable and palatable choices, focusing on a few things at a time and not feeling overwhelmed with the situation of worrying about eating too many "off-limit" foods. With mindful eating in mind, guilt is quickly thrown out the window and suddenly, life feels a little more balanced.
Now imagine if you can take this practice to both your daily eating habits and exercise routine?
Instead of nuts
(pic from uncommontreats.com)
or instead of savory brownies
(pic from howtocookbestfoods.com)
Whole grain granola and nut butter popcorn crumble
1 tbsp fresh raw ginger (grated)
1 1/4 cup oats
1 1/4 cup cheerios (Plain)
1 1/4 cup grape nut flakes cereal
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup tropical trail mix
1/2 cup dried all natural cranberries
3 tbsp chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sunflower oil
(recommend non or lightly salted nuts)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray non stick pan with a little non stick spray.
2. Mix together all ingredients in large bowl.
(use clean hands for better mixing).
3. Press 3/4 mixture on large cookie sheet. Save other 1/4 in medium bowl.
4. Bake for 12-18 minutes (watch around 12 minutes to prevent cherrios from burning).
5. Remove from oven and when cooled, remove from cookie sheet and place into tuperware container.
(this part was a little hard as the mixture was really sticky on the sheet).
Ingredients for Nut butter popcorn crumble
(perfect for the kiddos as a snack, in exchange for some of the other processed, high sugar options geared for children)
1 tbsp nut butter
6. While granola is baking, pop 4 tbsp plain kernels in 1 tbsp canola oil on medium heat (in large pot).
7. Combine popcorn with other 1/4th of granola (uncooked, recipe from above) mixture.
8. Add 1 heaping tbsp nut butter and mix well (with hands).
9. Portion 1/3 cup granola (both kinds) in individual baggies.
Instead of cheese dip:
(pic from arktimes.com)
1 large eggplant
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup purple onions, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick washed eggplant with fork.
2. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft.
3. Cool in cold water and gently remove skin with sharp knife.
4. Chop eggplant and place in blender.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until smooth (you may need to pulse and stop periodically and mix with fork with blender off, to get things going for the blending).
6. Blend until smooth.
Serve with artichoke or fresh veggies
Instead of chips, try Tarro Sweets and Beets chips:
Instead of pizza
(pic from livestrongandsore.com)
Bulgur pizza casserole
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup boiling water
Artichoke (fresh or jar)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place bulgur in a glass bowl of boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes.
3. When bulgur soaks up all the water, press in glass casserole dish. Sprinkle with cumin.
4. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.
5. Remove and top with sauce and toppings (mushrooms, onions, artichokes, garlic)
6. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and top with arugula and cheese.
(Here's how I prepared my artichoke -
How to prepare an artichoke)
A balanced Super bowl spread:
Veggies and/or fruit
Dip (salsa included)
A pre-meal Super Bowl plate pictured below....approved by the tummies of me and Karel.
Terra Sweets and Beets chips
A few extra tips:
-rather than wings, pizza and/or burgers, how about chili rich in veggies, herbs and spices and "topped" with your favorite protein. No crockpot? Time to invest a litle for a time-savor, meal appliance.
-Be a mindful eater. Just as you want to be OK with occasional treats and to not feel like a failure for eating something not in your typical diet, recognize that too much may feel uncomfortable.
-use non fat plain yogurt or greek yogurt in place of mayo (or as a dip)
-have plenty of fruits and veggies (pre-chopped) for easy snacking
-keep those glasses filled....with water
-start your day with a heart-pumping workout. Intervals work great, try this set for your choice of cardio: 4-8 sets of 30-60 sec "fast" w/ 2-3 minutes easy.
-Do not skip meals or snacks and do not go into your meal starving. Eat mini balanced meals throughout the day, after you consume a wholesome protein-rich + high fiber, low-fat (but healthy fat) breakfast after your workout. Finish the workout with a glass of milk, eggs or yogurt.
-Use smaller plates for your "main" dish (unless it is salad) and don't forget to consider the USDA Plate method for planning your Super bowl meal. If you tend to be a snacker during events, avoid large portions at any one time.
-plan a Monday workout, even if it is a 1 hour walk or hot yoga.
-avoid negative food or body image vocabulary. Have a game plan for the game, as well as the day, so that you feel a sense of control and happiness with your choices.
-Remember that there is always a tomorrow and Sunday is not the only day you can enjoy these "occasional" foods. When you accept that certain foods are OK any time of the year, they are often less desirable. However, with balance in mind, you may find yourself gravitating towards the food options that allow for consistent and recognizable body composition and performance gains.