Lighten Up Your Super Bowl Menu

The Super Bowl is an all-star grazing opportunity, where fans put away thousands of calories, handful by handful.

"People are grazing throughout the day -- you don't want to eat a full day's worth of food by the first quarter," says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, a nutritionist at Golden Door Spa and author of "The Superfoods Rx Diet." She shares her game plan for painlessly trimming up to 1,000 calories off a Super Bowl menu.

"Easy cheese" pizza

One of Bazilian's secret strategies is to go "easy cheese" when ordering pizza. A typical pizza usually has two cups of cheese or more. "Even if you ask for half the cheese, it is still going to be cheesy," says Bazilian. Lightening up on the cheese, even by a third, can cut hundreds of calories.

Another worthwhile special request: Ask for double-cut slices when you order. "Have them cut each slice in two so your 'slice tally' doubles. You can mix and match if you order different varieties of pizza, and you are more likely to eat less."

Trim more calories by opting for thin-crust pizza. "You just need a handle," says Bazilian, who says switching from pan pizza to thin-crust pizza saves about 150 calories for three slices.

Keep it simple for the healthiest pizza. Order cheese instead of the meat lovers' delight to lose even more fat and calories (subtract about 300 calories for three slices).

Skewer buffalo wings

Buffalo wings and fried chicken can provide "a whole meal's worth of calories before a meal has even started," says Bazilian. Instead, she suggests swapping in grilled chicken skewers with barbecue sauce, for a 50-percent calorie reduction. "Simply going to a nonfried version of wings will save you about 100 calories a serving."

Lighten up on chips

Opt for baked chips instead of traditional fried chips and drop 5 grams of fat per serving. Bazilian likes tortilla chips made from yellow or blue corn (a whole grain) over potato chips. "Keep celery and carrots close so you can alternate." 

Cheat the guacamole

Choose guacamole over sour cream dips, says Bazilian. At the Golden Door Spa, chefs create a healthier version of guacamole by blending in another vegetable (either asparagus, broccoli, or edamame) to increase volume and lower the calories. "People don't even know the difference, because it tastes about the same." She also recommends adding a healthy dose of salsa to expand the volume. "That way, 100 calories of dip becomes 50 calories."

One of the worst offenders is artichoke or spinach dip, which people often mistakenly believe is healthy. The combination of mayonnaise, cheese, and sour cream can pack more than 2,100 calories in a single recipe (and that's even without the bread for dipping). Instead, switch to a French onion dip made with and yogurt, and you'll cut at least 50 percent of the calories.

Chili swap

Chili can be a great, hearty choice, but watch the main ingredient. Traditional beef chili can have more than 300 calories and 14 grams of fat in a serving. Bazilian swaps beef for lean ground turkey and bumps up the tomatoes to trim 100 calories off a serving and slash the fat in half.

Dress appropriately

"Do not wear an NFL jersey on game day -- that is a disaster waiting to happen," laughs Bazilian. "There is just way too much room to expand when you're sporting an oversize shirt!"