Four-quarters of big-game football can be grueling, especially for those watching at a house party with a big-time buffet just an arm’s length away. It’s important to approach kickoff with a solid game plan to ensure that you make it to the post-game wrap-up without getting sacked by too much Kansas City barbeque or San Francisco sourdough.

“Before you go to your viewing party, have a small, healthy snack such as an apple or a handful of raisins and nuts,” says Amanda Shanahan, registered dietitian nutritionist and manager of employee wellbeing at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “If you’re hungry when you get to the party, your willpower will go ‘wide right.’”

Shanahan suggests offering to bring a healthy dish for everyone to enjoy, such as vegetables and low-fat dip. You can crunch away on celery, broccoli, bell peppers and carrots! Be wary of dipping veggies in ranch or a similar creamy dressing, which could load up the calories. Instead, prepare dips using Greek yogurt or light sour cream.

Serve baked tortilla chips instead of the traditionally fried version. Baked tortilla chips make an equally good base for nachos, which can be stacked high with layers of cilantro, shredded lettuce, beans, fresh avocado, diced tomatoes, and jalapenos. If you’re adding ground beef, use the kind labeled “90 percent lean, 10 percent fat,” and be sure to drain away the grease.

It may be most difficult to imitate chicken wings ‒ especially when they are deep fried and tossed in a butter-based sauce ‒ but Shanahan also has alternatives to this game day staple.
“Try baking chicken breast strips and dipping them in hot sauce,” she said.

Another tip is, before deciding on what you want to nibble on, take a 30-second food timeout to assess all the choices on the game day spread. Move away from the table, walk around, and mingle. “If you stay next to the food, you’re more likely to overeat,” says Shanahan. “This also provides an intentional pause to determine whether or not you are truly hungry.”

By being aware of what you are eating and focusing on portion size, the game, and the company, you’ll be able to make it to the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy, feeling like a winner.