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Super Bowl Sunday can be lots of fun as you get together with your buddies to watch the big game. But almost as celebrated as the game itself is the tradition of eating fattening food, excessive drinking, and coach-potato behavior.
Fortunately, you can have your cake—or, your guacamole—and eat it too. The excitement, parties and overall celebratory mood that surround this annual event needn’t set you back in your weight management efforts. Instead of starving yourself for a week afterward or beating yourself the next day up for over-indulging, with a few menu changes, some early-in-the-day activity and a half-time mini workout, you can stay in control of the situation.
Here are my four suggestions for how to have a ball with your friends and family without dropping the ball (pun intended) weight-wise and health-wise:
Start the big day with a walk
I begin every day with a walk, and the Super Bowl is no exception. A three-mile jaunt will take you about 45 minutes and if you’re out before noon (and it’s a sunny day), you’ll benefit from health-giving rays. You probably know that sunshine enables your body to make health-promoting vitamin D, but that’s only one benefit. A minimum of 20 minutes of sunshine a day helps boost your melatonin level, which is key to impacting your internal time clock so you sleep better that night. Research shows that the more sunshine you get early in the day, the more likely you are to be slim. With three miles under your belt and the steps you’ll take just in your daily activities before the game you should achieve or get pretty close to the 10,000 steps or roughly five miles I regard as a daily minimum for managing your weight.
Drink less to eat less
We all know alcoholic beverages are empty calories, but that’s not what makes alcohol and Super Bowl spreads such a dangerous combination to our waistlines. When we drink alcohol, it lowers our inhibitions, which makes us less aware of the quality and the amount of food we’re consuming. With a couple drinks in you, you’re way more likely to eat an entire bowl of Cheetos.
Time out for a quick workout
During halftime, while the players are taking a break, how about you doing just the opposite with this fun exercise? Or you can at least burn a few calories by dancing around with your kids to Katy Perry, who’s performing at halftime.
Try this halftime ab burn (3 sets of 1 minute each)
Plank: Rest your forearms on the floor and extend your legs back so your toes are on the ground and there’s a straight line from your heels to your shoulders. Contract your midsection and hold as long as you can.
Superman: Lie face-down on the floor with your arms and legs fully extended. From this position, lift your arms toward the ceiling, as if you were flying. Lower back down and repeat. For increased difficulty, add your lower body, lifting your legs at the same time as your arms so that your body looks like the letter ‘X’ from above. Tap the floor with your hands and feet between reps.
Side Plank: Lie on your right side with your right forearm underneath your shoulder, perpendicular to your body and your feet stacked. Using your obliques, push your butt up until your body forms a straight line from the top of your head to your feet. Bracing your abs, keep this position held for 60 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Modify the menu
If you’re hosting the party, simply add a few alternatives to the usual dishes. If you’re heading to a friend’s house, tote along one or more of the suggestions below:
-Instead of just potato or tortilla chips with the dips, provide some veggie stand-ins. Predictable carrot and celery sticks are fine, or get more creative with wide slices of bell peppers, jicama and fennel. The leaves of Belgian endive are also natural scoopers
-Slices of high-fiber, whole grain crackers like Wasa, Finn Crisp, and Ryveka are perfect for dipping and a super satisfying crunch
-Avoid dips full of mayonnaise or sour cream; instead, use low-fat or non-fat plain Greek yogurt or Skyr (Icelandic yogurt)
-Swap out sliders on rolls for my Oven-Baked Swedish Meatballs (recipe below)
-Pass on store-bought or delivery pizza, and make mini pizzas on toasted high-fiber sandwich thins, topped with low-fat mozzarella and pizza sauce (Ragu and Organicville both make no sugar added sauces.)
-Instead of greasy nachos, try my amazing nachos
Check out 3 healthy Super Bowl snack recipes at People Great Ideas
Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. His new book 5 Pounds hits shelves in March. Tweet him @harleypasternak.
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE Great Ideas.
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