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Courtesy of Joe Cahn, the tailgating 'commissioner'

Jambalaya at a typical New Orleans tailgate.    

Super Bowl Sunday might mean consuming almost as many calories as at Thanksgiving

by Morgan Kauphusman
Jan 31, 2013


Courtesy of Joe Cahn, the tailgating 'commissioner'

San Francisco fans tailgating at their home stadium


Courtesy of Joe Cahn, professional tailgater

Crab reigns king at Baltimore tailgates

Related Links

Tailgating Professional Joe Cahn's WebsiteAndrew & Peter's Ultimate Sports Road Trip

Tips for Keeping Fitness Goals this Sunday from Nutritionist Ellen Muhammad

Tip 1: Exercise portion control. "If you want to indulge in those high fat, high carbohydrate food choices, do so utilizing portion control. Just be mindful of the portion sizes indicated on the back of those nutrition facts labels. And you can still enjoy yourself. I just want to emphasize moderation."

Tip 2: Be mindful of alcohol consumption. "Let’s say if you have a beer and you don’t like or care for the light version, go ahead and go for the regular version.  But alternate before you pick up that second bottle of beer, reach for some water."

Tip 3: Include some healthy alternatives. "It’s OK to have raw vegetables like celery and carrots and dip, or fruit even.  But if you like those traditional snacks that we talked about, think about changing or playing around with the recipes and substituting some low fat or some lower fat ingredients versus the typical ingredients."

Tip 4: Be sure to get some physical activity. "If you know you’re going to overindulge or indulge even, try to get in some physical activity even before the game or even after the game or the next day thereafter, to try to offset the overindulgence if you should happen to overindulge."

The average American can expect to see big gains this weekend, even if your team loses.

This Super Bowl Sunday, you are likely to consume more calories than on any other day of the year, excluding Thanksgiving.

Last year on game day, Americans collectively consumed 11 million pounds of chips and 1.25 billion pounds of chicken wings.

At that rate of consumption, the average American consumed a day to a day and a half’s worth of calories during the game alone, according to Ellen Muhammad, a registered dietician at Nutrition and Beyond in Chicago.

“We’re not even talking about the other additional meals you may have leading into the Super Bowl and thereafter,” Muhammad said. “Let’s face it. Americans collectively tend to overindulge in snack consumption on Super Bowl Sunday.”

With the standard serving size of two tablespoons of cheese dip equaling 80 calories, it is easy to see how the average American tends to consume excessive amounts of food during the Super Bowl. The standard non-light beer has about 140 calories and more than 10 grams of carbohydrates.

Still Muhammad said that all is not lost.

“You should have fun,” she said. “It should be an enjoyable time to get together with family and friends and enjoy the game.”

Since the inception of the game in 1967, having a good time has been a top priority for most fans. Whether at home, in the stadium or in its parking lot, many Americans indulge in the traditional game-day eats, but there are some who take it a little more seriously.

Joe Cahn, a professional tailgater who bought an RV and hit the road in 1996 after selling his New Orleans based cooking school, has visited every professional football stadium. In that time he has witnessed ingenuity in stadium parking lots that most people can only imagine.

“I think people are more willing to experiment and try different foods,” Cahn said.  “One person took his crab cakes, made them the day before, put them in a disposable muffin tin and cooked it all on his grill. They were delicious.”

Cahn also said he has seen his fellow tailgaters use a wider variety of spices, seasonings, and flavored butters and oils to give their game day foods a signature flavor.  He attributes this willingness to experiment to two things.

“The transportation of food has become such that we don’t have to rely on local products.” Cahn went on to say, “Now, whatever you can cook at home, you can cook out in a parking lot.”

Food inside the stadium has also evolved, according to Andrew Kulyk, a native New Yorker and avid sports fan who also took to the road with his friend Peter Farrell to visit sports meccas around the country. As older stadiums have been renovated or replaced, Kulyk said he has seen more attention to detail when it comes to food options and services.

“The newer [stadiums] have rolled out much more elaborate food items than you used to see 15-20 years ago,” Kulyk said. “In a lot of the older facilities, they didn’t have the ovens and the prep areas and the storage areas.”

But whatever your food choices are on Super Bowl Sunday, Muhammad said portion control is the real secret to staying true to your health goals.

“Enjoy the day in moderation,” she said.  “Just be mindful and enjoy yourself.”