Surviving the Super Bowl

Super Bowl Sunday — America’s unofficial national holiday. Like all holidays, it has its pitfalls for those who are determined not to eat junk. Super Bowl parties are awash in chips and beer, and lots of food. The event lasts for hours, the food constantly there and beckoning. What to do?

If possible, have the Super Bowl party at your house. This puts you in charge of the food. If you’re going to someone else’s party, bring one or two low-carb party foods. Either way, there are so many great HEAL-friendly snack options that you can create an impressive spread that will please everyone. Consider:

* Chicken wings – Traditional Buffalo Sauce is simply a 50/50 mixture of Frank’s Hot Sauce (Louisiana or Tabasco will work as well) and melted butter. Add a clove of garlic, if you like, and toss with wings roasted crisp. Add blue cheese dressing and celery.

* Deviled eggs – Old-fashioned, but people love them.

* All-meat chili with a pot of beans on the side for those who want them. Shredded cheese and sour cream are HEAL-legal!

* Cold cooked shrimp – They’re a huge crowd-pleaser. Cocktail sauce is sugary, but it’s easy to make your own by spiking no-sugar-added ketchup with horseradish and lemon juice, plus a shot of hot sauce.

* Stuffed mushrooms are infinitely variable, and the mushrooms themselves are super-low-carb. The easiest version is to stuff them with soft garlic-herb cheese, like Boursin or Allouette, before baking at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. A little paprika on top makes them look like you tried harder than you did. Or you can make Kay’s Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms. My friend Kay begged me to come up with low carb crab puffs. I tried several different approaches, but, alas, they eluded me. So I came up with these mushrooms instead, and she loved them. Try these with tuna, too!

* Meatballs – There are zillions of recipes for cocktail meatballs, and in many of them the only really carby part is the bread crumbs. There is a super-simple fix for this: Pork rind crumbs. Just run a bag of plain pork rinds through the food processor, and proceed with your meatball recipe.

* Burgers are ever-popular; Just eat yours without the bun. I buy pre-made 100% beef hamburger patties by the sack at Costco. If you have an electric contact grill – you know, the George Foreman kind of thing – you can simply put out the burgers, the grill, and the fixings, for a zero-work crowd pleaser. If you don’t have an electric contact grill, check your local Goodwill. I see ‘em all the time.

* Similarly, you can keep hot dogs warm in your slow cooker and let people serve themselves. Yes, you can eat a hot dog with no bun. Let me recommend this startling new invention called the “fork” – it allows you to get food to your mouth without resorting to the edible napkin that is the bun.

* Surely I don’t have to remind you to get a relish tray. Remember that the celery is the lowest-carb veggie on it, with cauliflower and broccoli close behind. Let others eat the baby carrots. Ranch dip is okay.

* Is the crowd ordering pizza? Make sure at least one has extra cheese, plus whatever meat toppings you like. Then peel off the toppings, scarf them down, and toss the crust. Again, it’s an edible napkin.

* If you simply must have something crunchy out of a cellophane bag, it’s pork rinds for you. If you’re getting the hot-and-spicy or barbecue flavors, read the ingredients to make sure there’s no sugar.

* If you’re buying snacks for others, go with your least-favorite. By way of example, I love potato chips but couldn’t care less about pretzels. Hence, were I hosting a party I would buy pretzels.

* If you’re a beer fan, the lowest carb beers I know of are Michelob Ultra, Miller Light, and Milwaukee’s Best Light. Still, you really can’t afford more than one.

* Most parties will have diet soda, but I personally loathe the stuff. I bring a couple of 12-packs of sparkling water to every party I go to.

All of this being said, I’d like to make an important point: It is possible to watch television (or a movie, for that matter) without constantly eating. We’ve been trained to eat mindlessly, what I call “the hand-to-mouth routine,” for the duration of whatever we’re watching. It has nothing to do with actual hunger.

If you’ve been following the HEAL protocol for even a week or two, you’ll have noticed that you simply aren’t as hungry as you used to be. This is because, while we have no in-built satiety mechanism for carbohydrates – which is why you can put down an entire bag of chips without getting sick to your stomach – we do have satiety mechanisms for fat and protein. They fill and satisfy us. This is an excellent thing, but means that there simply are no low carb foods you can eat endlessly, mindlessly, for several hours on game day. You’ll just have to learn to watch television without constantly munching. Eat to fuel yourself, not for entertainment.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t sit next to the chips.

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Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice or treatment. Follow the guidance of a physician before embarking on any diabetes-management or weight-loss program, especially if you are on dialysis, pregnant, nursing or under the age of 18. If you are taking medications, changing your diet under the HEALcare® program may require a change in their dosages. Follow your doctor’s orders on all medications, especially if you are taking diuretics or medication for blood pressure or diabetes. Individual results may vary. The testimonials referenced in this website are not promises or guarantees that you will achieve similar results.

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