If you are planning to enjoy Super Bowl Sunday a little too much — one too many chicken wings or handfuls of chips smothered with guacamole or cheese, no need to feel guilty about one day of overindulging, if you otherwise have a balanced and nutrient-rich diet.
Here’s how you get back on track after Super Bowl Sunday, or any day you overeat or make less-than-healthy food choices:
Aim for three squares and a small snack made of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein foods, and low- or nonfat dairy foods.
- Eat every few hours to stay energized and nourished.
- Drink plenty of water before or even with meals to stay hydrated (one sign you’re hydrated is urine that’s pale yellow or straw colored).
- Don’t forget to be active—even taking a simple walk after one or more meals can help you burn calories and recharge you mentally. Maybe a brisk walk around the block between commercial breaks (aren’t we all watching the game for the commercials?)
And here are seven more food tips to help you de-bloat and stay energized from breakfast to dinner.
1. Start your day with oatmeal
Oats provide key vitamins and minerals, including manganese.
“It’s the ultimate cleansing breakfast,” says Joan Salge-Blake, R.D., clinical associate professor, Boston University and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A recent study found that when individuals eat hot oatmeal rather than cold cereal in the morning, there was a greater reduction in both hunger and desire to eat hours later as compared to the cold cereal, according to Salge-Blake.
“The oatmeal had better staying power, which could potentially help minimize mid-morning hunger and snacking,” says Salge-Blake.
Rich in slowly digested carbohydrates that keep blood sugar levels steady, oats are also a source of fiber and protein — a dynamic duo that can fill you up. They also provide key vitamins and minerals including manganese. When shopping for oats, look for plain varieties with no added sugar and little or no sodium. There are many quick and instant low- or no-sodium varieties to choose from that are convenient and easy-to-prepare options.
California-based registered dietitian Andrea Giancoli prepares oatmeal with protein-rich soy milk (or nonfat milk), blueberries and raspberries (fresh or frozen, without added sugar) to add sweetness, and a small handful of chopped nuts or seeds to add healthy fats and a satisfying crunch.
You can also stir into your oatmeal some unsweetened applesauce and add a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra flavor.
2. Eat Eggs
“I love to recommend eggs, especially after a day of overeating, because they pack in few calories and are a great source of protein and other valuable nutrients,” says Keri Gans, author of “The Small Change Diet.”
Eggs have been shown to fill you up and may even help you eat less. You can have a hard boiled egg as part of breakfast or an in-between meal snack, or slice it a top a colorful green salad.
Or have two poached eggs on 100% whole grain toast or a sandwich thin topped with your favorite cheese spread.
3. Be a darling, have a clementine
“If you’re looking to get back into the swing of things after the Super Bowl, grab a clementine—it’s in season,” says New York-based registered dietitian Toby Amidor.
“Not only are they convenient and easy to grab-and-go with, but they’re packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin we can all use an extra boost of especially during flu season.”
Clementines are also loaded with water to help us hydrate, “especially after one too many beers or other alcoholic drinks during the big game,” says Amidor.
Peel and eat one during breakfast, in-between meals, or at the start of a meal, or add clementine sections to a fruit salad or to a green salad for a colorful and nutrient-packed lunch or dessert.
4. Go green
“It may not be the sexiest vegetable, but kale is in season and it’s so versatile,” says Amidor.
A low calorie addition to any meal, kale provides some fiber to help your gastrointestinal tract get back on track. One cup chopped kale also provides two grams of protein and seven times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K. Kale is also an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamins A and C.
Amidor recommends eating kale as part of a colorful salad, sautéing it with a touch of grapeseed oil, or blending in a smoothie.
You can also bake kale chips, sprayed with some olive oil—but be sure to go light on the salt, especially when you want to de-bloat after your Super Bowl excesses.
5. Keep it simple with soup
“What can be more simple than soup, especially on a chilly winter day?” says Salge-Blake.
Not only can soup provide a great vehicle for delivering into your diet some lean protein and vegetables, but it provides a vehicle for staying hydrated, something many of us need to get more of, especially during the winter when we tend to sweat less.
“Whether your team won or lost, you can warm up and even trim down with a vegetable-rich chicken post-Super Bowl lunch,” says Salge-Blake.
A recent study that looked at the dietary habits of over 10,000 adults found “those who consumed soup had a significantly lower body weight, smaller waistline, and a higher intake of fiber, vegetables, protein, and some vitamins and minerals,” says Salge-Blake.
Because some soups can be especially high in sodium, it’s prudent to make your own vegetable or broth-based soups or to shop for those varieties that are reduced or low in sodium and to stick to a small portion—about a cup.
6. Be smooth
Giancoli thinks smoothies are an easy and delicious addition to any post-Super Bowl meal plan. She recommends fruits like strawberry or mango blended with banana and soy milk that together provide fiber, vitamin C, potassium, a little protein, some healthy fats and a variety of vitamins and minerals. “A smoothie is an easy mini-meal that provides high quality foods and key nutrients to energize you, especially after overdoing it the day before,” Giancoli says.
7. Pass the potatoes
“After a day or night of unhealthy eating, many of us don’t feel great, yet we crave comfort foods,” says Gans.
Northing says comfort more than potatoes. Low in fat and sodium, potatoes provide complex carbohydrates to provide energy and fiber to help you feel satisfied, support gastrointestinal health and help keep cholesterol levels in check. They are also a source of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that emerging research suggests may promote laxation and create so-called “good” bacteria in the gut that help regulate blood sugar and boost fullness.
Potatoes also boast high levels of vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6.
“The key is to learn how to enjoy them without adding insult to injury,” says Gans. She recommends topping a small baked potato with hummus and a dollop of low-fat sour cream.
“It’s a tasty, low-calorie option that can be added to dinner,” says Gans. In our home, we have it alongside steamed Brussels sprouts and a piece of broiled salmon or Gardein “meatless” Crispy Tenders,” says Gans.
–Nutritionist Elisa Zied, R.D., is founder and president of Zied Health Communications, New York, and author of “Younger Next Week.”