It’s the “Big Game,” and a huge social occasion for your friends and family nationwide. But just because a particular game is super, doesn’t mean that game day Sunday is problem-free. Two of the most frequent problems that come with the ultimate day of football: unhealthy eating and stress. Here’s how to have a happy and healthy day of football fun.
Food and football
What goes with sporting events? Beer, more beer, chips, wings, and, for the culinary-minded, perhaps multi-layer tips. But perhaps hops and carbs aren’t part of your diet of choice. Join in the Patriots and/or Eagles smack talk without the added calories and attendant bloating. Consider these healthy snack alternatives as you watch the game (or at least the game day commercials).
Prep your kickoff snacks and eating strategy
According to registered dietitian and associate clinical professor Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, a touchdown-induced feeding frenzy can wreak havoc on your waistline and mood. If you’re an unconscious eater (you eat without noticing) or an emotional eater (your team is losing), plan ahead before you eat a plate of nachos and two bags of potato chips. Ayoob recommends that you create eating boundaries – and this applies whether you’re at the local bar or your living room.
Limit yourself to raw vegetables and fruit until half-time, Ayoob says. (FYI: hot dogs are not vegetables.) Then, maintain a ‘sane’ portion mentality until the end of the game. “Stick to the amount you’d get if it were on a hospital menu or a school cafeteria. You won’t be as hungry because of all the veggies and fruit you’ve had during the first half,” Ayoob explains.
If you’re hosting a party at your home, make sure you contribute to the spread with healthy options, Ayoob adds. His top picks for football party snacks: protein-packed goodies s like nuts, hummus, dips with Greek yogurt and bean-based chips.
For many, the Big Game equals booze. Ayoob gives the seal of approval to have a drink or two, as long as it’s in moderation. “If you drink, [try to have] one beer only.” Where possible, opt for low or no-calorie beverages. “Low-sugar cranberry-type cocktails, which have about five calories, make great spritzers when mixed with club soda or seltzer,” he says.
Chill out during the Big Game
Maybe watching football has always been a tradition in your home and over the years, has caused you much anxiety. Or you happen to be hitched to a partner who gets enthralled with the competition and becomes distraught if their team loses. Or you’re married to Tom Brady.
Whatever your reasons, if you think you might be over-invested in the outcome of the game, prepare yourself mentally before the Big Game. As psychiatrist Gayani DeSilva explains, reactions to important sporting events range from elation to disappointment to fury.
“The [Big Game] is an event that where it is socially acceptable to get out of control with our feelings about situations that are out of our control. One team’s fans will feel vindicated and the other team’s fans will feel defeated. Both sides are socially allowed to express their extreme feelings in extreme ways,” DeSilva explains.
If you feel your blood boil when a kick is missed or a ball is dropped, DeSilva suggests taking deep breaths until you feel your heart rate return to normal. It’s also perfectly fine to remove yourself from the room with the TV for a little while. You can also try yoga to calm down (see below).
Take yoga breaks
While yoga might seem like the polar opposite exercise of football, some players use the stretching benefits of this ancient practice to prep for game day. As yoga therapist Dr. Lynn Anderson notes, utilizing the feel-good, calming vibes of yoga can be beneficial during a close game.
Anderson suggests starting with a standby yoga position: downward-facing dog. Coincidentally, Dr. Anderson says this position may be the best move to accompany football-watching. “ It works to open the solar plexus area, which is the gut area, and the middle back. The solar plexus is the seat of the ego concerned with the struggle for power and control. Since the [Big Game]is all about power and control, it would be good to balance this energy center,” she opines.
Massage during the game – and afterward
There are few things more luxurious than squinting at the Philadelphia Eagles while getting a chair massage. Massages are a great party activity – and a group massage is simple to book on the Zeel massage app. One thing to keep in mind for those of you who drink alcohol and get massage: you should drink moderately (or not at all) prior to getting your massage.
Sadly, every game must end, not matter how long or contested. If you’re still in game day mode , it’s time to reward yourself for a healthy, wellness-focused game day with a massage at home. Try a sports massage for added theme faithfulness.