Newport Beach Nutritionist Dishes On Punting Super Bowl Junk Food

According to NFL history, the football showdown this Sunday—pitting the Philadelphia Eagles against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots—will be the 52nd Super Bowl and the 48th modern-era National Football League championship game. According to our stomachs, it’ll be yet another chance to binge on disgusting bar food from the comfort of our very own living rooms.

Real talk: If we’re not watching this thing for the actual game, we’re most likely watching for the commercials and to fulfill a personal, heartfelt challenge of stuffing as many chicken wings into our face as possible.


A few weeks ago, we introduced you to April Murray, a leading Newport Beach Registered Dietician and founder of OC Nutrition Coaching, who provided her take on how to restart for a healthy New Year. Now that 2018 is well upon us, April is back with advice to help avoid a super (nacho) bowl meltdown on Sunday. 

April Murray, leading Newport Beach RN and founder of OC Nutrition Coaching, prepares a healthy Super Bowl snack.
WEST OCEANFRONT: First, let’s get the bad out of the way. What’s the worst, most over-indulgent Super Bowl snack in the game? 

Don’t kill me, people … wings! I pinned these as the most overindulgent because honestly, most people don’t think they’re that unhealthy. It’s just chicken, right? In actuality, just one of these suckers has more than 100 calories, including sauce. If you think about it, it’s a fried piece of chicken, skin on, smothered in high-sodium, high-sugar sauces. Not to mention wings are typically dipped in ranch dressing. And it’s just so easy to mindlessly eat five, 10 even 20 of these while you’re watching the game.

Ugh, true. So, what are some good snacks we can enjoy? The celery and carrots HAVE to be fine, right?

Yes, it’s never a bad idea to bring a veggie platter with you, every time I bring one to a Super Bowl party it gets gobbled up!

If you don’t want to opt for the predictable, remember people are much more health-conscious nowadays; don’t be afraid to venture out! Try “buffalo cauliflower wings,” serve wheat pitas with tzatziki sauce, grill veggie kebabs or bake a thin pizza using a wheat tortilla with pesto and a sprinkle of cheese.

Luckily, if you search Pinterest for healthy Super Bowl snacks, thousands of ideas will pop up!

Now, let’s think like the athletes for a minute. If we were say, playing in the game, what kind of meal would you recommend that’s worthy of a Super Bowl star?

The words carbohydrates, anti-inflammatory and protein come to mind.

Most athletes are relying on glucose (byproducts of carbohydrates) to fuel them during the game. Don’t be surprised to see an athlete eating noodles or rice before the game and drinking Gatorade during.

Because a lot of inflammation is produced during this hard-hitting sport, players will also benefit from foods rich in vitamin C, omega-3s and other helpful, restorative nutrients.

And don’t forget protein for muscle recovery and repairing tissue damage, which these guys have a lot of!

If I had to plan a player’s ultimate Super Bowl meal, I would probably recommend brown rice with salmon and kale, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with slivered almonds. To drink, I’d suggest a fresh glass of juice (papaya, orange, kale, ginger or lemon) and lots of water.

OK, switching gears completely, let’s talk beer. You can’t tailgate the Super Bowl (even from your couch) without beer. How do you recommend moderating alcohol intake during the big game? How much beer is too much?

Everyone has his or her own limitations when it comes to beer, and those of you who are gluten intolerant probably have it the worst. Some people will drink just one beer and feel absolutely horrible the next day. Let’s not forget that the carbonation in beer can cause or worsen acid reflux.

I’m going to put this question on each person individually: Ask yourself how beer makes you feel and weigh the pros and cons before busting out that 12-pack.

Super Bowl cocktail Newport Beach

Noted. But are there other somewhat healthy cocktails we can substitute for that IPA or stout? 

Yes, I’ve seen a lot of people drinking grapefruit-flavored Lacroix and mixing it with vodka. This is technically a carb-free beverage choice. And of course, there are so many light beer options like Michelob Ultra. If you have issues with gluten, try Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales; their gluten-free ales are just as tasty as their regular brews.

Stress eating is undeniably a thing during the Super Bowl. Our team is down by six with two minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter and we need a salt-and -vinegar fix. Do you have any advice for avoiding that reach-for-the-chip-bowl anxiety reliever?

Scream, jump up and down, cuss, slap each other‘s … hands.

If you were to ask yourself what you really need in that crucial moment of the game, it’s not food.

You need an outlet for all of your worries and anxieties! If you do need to munch on something, go for the veggie tray. And by this point in the game you’ll probably need water as well.

Speaking of chips … are there healthy alternatives and brands out there? Should we bake some sliced sweet potatoes or kale? (We know, the diehard football fans just let out out a huge, grease-loving groan at the mention of “kale” but enlighten us, please …)

Yes, today food companies can turn anything, even a pizza, into a “superfood.” Try Jilz Crackers, which are great with avocado and lemon pepper; there’s also Beanitos brand chips made out of black beans. I like Lundberg thin stacker rice cakes, which are only 25 calories each, and Siete now has a grain-free chip.

If you have time, cut jicama, carrots or sweet potatoes into thin rounds and coat with avocado oil spray. Throw these “chips” in the oven at 400° F and bake until crispy.

Let’s skip to the end of the game. Our team wins. YES! Time to pop the bubbly and celebrate … but is champagne fattening, too? What’s one thing we can eat or drink with little or no post-game guilt? 

I’m a big believer in Halo Top ice cream! Enlightened has a great low-calorie ice cream, too. If you’re around Newport Beach, try a Pressed Juicery freeze, available at Fashion Island. In terms of alcohol, go for vodka or tequila, which both have zero carbs.

If you decide to screw it and bring Sidecar Donuts to the office the next morning—celebration hangover food—remember that one meal won’t make or break your health … just get right back on track.

Transitioning to fitness, after a day of err, less than stellar eating, what do you recommend to recharge our body (and stomachs) once the Super Bowl is through? Any special shakes or exercise we can do on Monday morning to help us make a triumphant return to a healthy 2018?

My number one recommendation would be to pound water and get as much sleep as you possibly can to recover and heal your body. Unfortunately, hangovers usually lead to fatty-food cravings so exercises that can ease your pain would include a long walk, yoga class or even simply another nap. Rigorous activity will put more stress on your body, so skip that morning CrossFit workout for an extra hour of snooze. 

For a post-game recharge, April recommends yoga or gentle exercise.