Have a Super Healthy Super Bowl Celebration!

How to drink light and right during a Super Bowl party

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

You're heading to a Super Bowl party, but you've vowed to avoid the dips, the chips, and the wings at all costs. Still, it is a celebration, so a few beers or mixed drinks couldn't do too much harm. Or could they?

We usually don't think of them in the same league as junk food. Yet the calories from beverages can add up quickly, especially if they contain alcohol. One gram of alcohol has 7 calories, compared with 4 for carbs and protein. So ounce for ounce, you can consume almost twice as much carbs and protein for the same number of calories!

So as you celebrate the Super Bowl, you need to keep track of and make smart decisions about your beverage consumption. The choice is yours to decide -- where would you prefer to get your calories?

Portion Distortion

A glass of wine or beer has roughly 125 to 150 calories, right? Maybe, it depends on the size of the glass and how often you refill that glass. It is hard to know exactly how much you have consumed because all too often, the glass is continually refilled. It is safe to say that the average serving size of wine and alcoholic beverages is usually more than you think it is.

The savvy dieter finishes one serving then switches to a nonalcoholic, noncaloric beverage such as sparkling water before considering another serving of alcohol. This way, you not only reduce the risk of over-consuming calories and alcohol, but this strategy also helps meet your fluid needs. And your head will thank you in the morning when you awake feeling chipper without a hangover!

Not only do cocktails boost calories, but they also have a powerful impact on mood and inhibitions. Your resolve can be really strong going into that party but after a few drinks, you may find yourself mindlessly overeating the nuts, dips, or whatever food is within striking distance. Yet another reason to limit your consumption!

Nonalcoholic Thirst Quenchers

Soft drinks usually come in 12-ounce cups and add a good 150 calories per serving. While 150 calories might not sound like a lot, it is mostly sugar. Super size it and you can pack away 400 calories without a blink of an eye. What's worse, the liquid calories fulfill your thirst but do little to satisfy hunger. Artificially sweetened beverages are a fine alternative but even those should be limited to a few servings per day.

Choosing a glass of fruit or vegetable juice is a great option, chock full of nutrients and disease-preventing antioxidants. Vegetable juice contains the least amount of calories and can be very pleasing. Fruit juice that is 100% juice contains almost twice as many calories as vegetable juice and while very nutritious, can add up to several hundred calories in large glasses.

One of the best thirst quenchers is good old-fashioned water. Sparkling water makes a nice substitute if you like the effervescence of soda. Jazz up noncaloric waters with fresh citrus, a splash of juice or a sprig of fresh mint. This is a great way to meet your daily fluid needs without any extra calories. And for those who don't want to look like they are not imbibing in the festivities, sparkling water with lime or fruit juice looks like you are enjoying a social cocktail.

The Plan

Before heading out to the party or bar, make a game plan. Eat a light snack before you go so that you won't get tipsy with the first drink; it should also help reduce the temptation to dive into the food.

Choose drinks that are relatively simple, such as coffee, tea, juice, wine, wine spritzers, light beer, or drinks mixed with low-calorie mixers. Sweet or creamy drinks add lots of extra fat and calories. Rum and diet cola or vodka and soda with a twist are good lower-calorie drink options.

Winter Warmers

Okay, we've talked about Super Bowl party time, but what about those other winter warmers?

Snuggling up to the fireplace with a mug of warm apple cider or hot chocolate is pure bliss. Make your hot chocolate with skim milk and top with a dollop of light whipped cream for a delicious and satisfying treat. Spice up your favorite warm ciders with spices or vanilla beans to heighten your senses.

Hot herbal teas and coffees are equally tasty. At the coffee house, order up your specialty coffee with skim milk ("skinny"); hold the whipped cream and you won't find yourself 600 calories in the hole. That's right, some of those large fancy coffee drinks with syrups, whole milk, and whipped cream can set you back as much as 600 to 700 calories -- the equivalent of two healthy meals!

Staying well hydrated during the cold winter months is very important. Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are suffering from colds or flu, and remember to choose them carefully. As you've seen, those wonderful winter warmers and holiday nogs can add lots of unwanted calories!

Originally published Jan. 23, 2004
Medically updated Jan. 3, 2005.

©2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!