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Got an Eating Game Plan for Super Bowl?
Got an Eating Game Plan for Super Bowl?

By Nanci Hellmich
February 1, 2014 9:00AM

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Between party food and booze, it's easy to consume 2,000 or more calories on Super Bowl Sunday. For the health-conscious, it's best to have a game plan. Grazing through the game on just a bite of this and a bite of that can lead to a significant calorie fumble, experts say. For many, Super Bowl can wreak havoc on New Year's resolutions.

It's easy to consume 2,000 calories or more during the Super Bowl game, and it's no wonder. Chips, pizza and booze are among the foods and beverages that become more popular that day compared with a typical Sunday, a leading market research firm says.

About 22% of people say they eat chips on Super Bowl Sunday; 18%, pizza; 16%, soup; and 13% say they consume alcohol, says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, which tracks eating trends.

Veggies are the most common food eaten that day, with 27% eating any kind of vegetable, Balzer says.

Wings are the most seasonal food, increasing from 2% of people eating them on a typical Sunday to 6% of people who consume them on Super Bowl Sunday. About 12% eat pizza on a regular Sunday, compared with 18% on the Big Game day. "It's a party day, so I expect those to be higher," he says.

Other things people nibble on: 5% eat carrots; 5% eat nuts and seeds. Only 1% consume chili.

These numbers reflect people's eating habits on Super Bowl Sunday from 2008 through 2013. They include people who watch the game and those who don't, which is the majority of Americans, Balzer says. About 108.7 million people watched the Super Bowl last year, which means more than 200 million people didn't watch it.

Not to be a spoil sport, but consider this: If you eat one slice of cheese pizza, six chicken wings with dressing, a few handfuls of chips with dip, two beers and a cookie, you could easily consume 2,000 calories during the game, says Heather Mangieri, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a sports nutritionist in Pittsburgh.

The calories climb closer to 3,500 if you really pile up your plate and have three slices of pepperoni pizza, six spicy chicken wings with dressing, two beers, several ounces of potato chips with dip and a cookie. That's more calories than most people should eat for an entire day, she says.

"Grazing through the game on just a bite of this and a bite of that can lead to a significant calorie fumble," she says. If you are watching your weight, you should show up at the party with a game plan on how you're going to enjoy the food without overeating, Mangieri says.

Balzer agrees that for some people their eating habits on Super Bowl Sunday wreak havoc with their New Year's diet plans. "My personal observation is that the Super Bowl is the grand end of the eating season in America, which begins on Halloween.

"On Jan. 1, many people make an attempt to diet, and then get interrupted by the Super Bowl. By the end of February and the beginning of March, a huge number of Americans are starting to diet."

NPD dieting data show that "the first week of March is when dieting reaches its peak," Balzer says.

© 2014 USA TODAY under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.

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