Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY
No one wants to be a spoil sport about the Super Bowl, but boy can the calories add up if you're mindlessly munching while watching the game.
Consider how easy it is to snarf down thousands of calories.
If you eat one slice of cheese pizza, six chicken wings with dressing, several handfuls of tortilla chips with Buffalo dip, two beers and a brownie, 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.
You could hit 4,000 calories if you really indulge and have three slices of pepperoni pizza, 10 spicy chicken wings with dressing, three beers, several ounces of tortilla chips with dip and two brownies.
"Even if you just take a bit of this and a bit of that, the calories can add up quickly," she says.
And, to make matters worse, it would take hours to burn off those calories with exercise, unless you are a linebacker.
To burn off 2,000 calories, a 180-pound person would have to walk briskly (about 3.5 mph on a level surface) for five hours or more, Mangieri says. Or they could try to burn it off by walking an extra hour a day for a week, she says.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago and author of The Flexitarian Diet, offers three foolproof plays to keep calories in check:
• Stick with the one-plate rule. Get one heaping plate of food. Anything you'd like, but don't go back for seconds or graze all during the big game.
• Watch the commercials. Instead of getting up at commercial breaks to snack, sit back and relax. It's what everyone will talk about the next day anyway.
• Huddle strategically. Don't mingle with others right by the food. Placing yourself farther away from the spread will make mindless grazing less likely to happen.
If you follow this advice, it might be "a touchdown" for your waistline, Blatner says.
Mangieri advises people to think about what they're going to eat on Sunday night, then eat it slowly. Really savor your favorite food, and stop eating when you're full.
If you don't overdo it, you'll probably feel better in the morning - even if your favorite team loses.