Eat this, not that while watching the big game

Super Bowl food
Watching the big game doesn’t mean you have to sabotage your nutrition plan or your New Year’s resolutions to eat better.

Super Bowl Sunday wasn't quite the same during the socially distant days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fewer people hosted Super Bowl watch parties or traditional gatherings as they took steps to reduce the risk of infection.

These days, if you’re a cancer patient, it’s still important to avoid large gatherings to reduce your risk of exposure and infection from the flu or the lingering COVID-19 virus, especially at indoor venues, such as a bar or restaurant. That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the game or root for your team on Super Bowl Sunday, even if it’s with the family or caregivers you see regularly.

But watching the big game also doesn’t mean you have to sabotage your nutrition plan or your New Year’s resolutions to eat better. Good nutrition helps you stay strong during treatments and helps you better cope with some cancer treatment side effects, such as nausea or malnutrition.

Healthier options exist for all of those watch party snacks and beverages. Here are some suggestions for healthier food and drink options you can enjoy while cheering on your favorite team.

Party food

Eat this: Vegetarian stew

Although vegetarian stew can be cooked in many ways, capitalize on whole grains, vegetables, spices, beans and even dried fruits in your recipe. Loading up on these ingredients may help support your heart health, immune system and gut health, while also helping to keep your blood sugar down, anemia at bay and seasonal allergies from flaring up.

Not that: Beef chili

Although you can make a healthy version of this popular dish, it’s most often made with high-fat beef and high-sodium broth as well as pre-packaged seasonings. If you then add the shredded cheese and sour cream, the empty calories start adding up. Instead, use grass-fed beef, low-sodium broth, beans/lentils, garlic, onion and your own seasonings to make the chili flavor.

Eat this: Tropical guacamole

Typical guacamole ingredients include avocado, red onion, minced jalapeno, lime juice and cilantro. Try adding diced mango and pineapple to help make your guacamole tropical, which may help provide some potential benefits for your heart health, phytochemicals, gut health and anti-inflammatory responses. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple that may help with digestion of food, is often included in supplements developed for digestion support.

Not that: Queso

Cheese is a high-calorie food. And some people get fancy by adding extra ingredients like chuck ground beef or sausage that can continue to pack on the fat and calories. It may be best to avoid this creamy sidekick altogether.


Of course, water is the best drink option, but some find plain water boring. Flavored or infused waters are fun alternatives. Berries and citrus are anther crowd-pleasing option. In place of sweet tea, look for fun drink mixes that use stevia as a sweetener. Many non-alcoholic “mocktail” options are also available. If you’re craving a beer during the game, consider a non-alcoholic variety.

If you decide to drink alcohol, stay away from spiked fruit punches. Even though some recipes are made from 100 percent fruit juice, many of these drinks are loaded with sugar. One cup of fresh juice can contain between 25 to 30-plus grams of sugar, so take this into account when considering a second round. Instead, try a bloody Mary, which is much lower in calories, and the lemon and lime juice are high in vitamin C. Tomatoes are also high in lycopene, a phytochemical and powerful antioxidant also thought to support heart health.

Another Super Bowl drink to avoid is spiked hot chocolate, especially if it comes with the usual: marshmallows, full-fat dairy, added sugar, chocolate syrup and caramel syrup. The go-all-out version of this warm, game-day beverage can contain several hundreds of calories per cup. If you’re craving a hot drink, you can make a hot toddy with an herbal tea of your choice. Herbal teas, depending on the ingredients, can provide a wide range of health benefits. If you’re feeling under the weather, add a lemon slice, cloves and locally sourced honey to your toddy.

Get recipes to healthy appetizers and desserts.