The following is a comprehensive list of both approved food choices and/or healthier substitutes for traditional party foods. Use this list to satisfy your taste buds while saving at least hundreds if not thousands of calories in the process. If you use these strategies consistently for parties and social gatherings over the course of the year, this could prevent 5-10 lbs of fat gain… easily!
Section I- Appetizers
• Naked Sandwiches (preferably bun-less, only use whole grain bun option if absolutely needed)
• Thin Crust Whole Grain Pizza
• Fruit Salad (throw low carb whipped cream and dash of splenda/stevia on top as desired)
• Super Salad Bowl (use unlimited veggies and meats, dip dressing on the side or use low calorie substitutes)
• Sweet Potato Fries
• Tuna or Chicken Salad
• Nut Butter on Celery Sticks
• Mixed Nuts (no sugar, unroasted, low in salt)
• Cheese, Eggs, and Meat Tray
• Caprese Salad
• Raw Veggies (use dip sparingly)
• Grilled/Sauteed Veggies (use extra virgin olive or coconut oil)
• Figure-Friendly Nachos (see “accessories” below for ingredients: tortillas, cheese, salsa, and guac)
• Buffalo Chicken Bites (skinless, no breading, use low calorie buffalo sauce sparingly)
• Pasta Salad (use whole grain pasta and go easy on the dressings, choosing marina based sauces over creamier versions)
Section II- Accessories
• Natural Whole Grain Tortillas
• Natural Baked Chips
• Natural Cheetohs
• Diet Lipton Green Teas (or other low calorie/carb beverages)
• Natural Salsa
• Salad Dressings: Vinegars of choice (apple cider, red wine, balsamic, etc.)
• Other Low Calorie Condiments of Choice: mustard, hot sauce, horseradish, etc.
Section III- Main Courses
• Lettuce Burgers (use extra lean sirloin or bison, preferably bun-less only using whole grain bun option if absolutely needed)
• Rotisserie Chicken (choose “plain” and remove skin and dab off any grease as needed with paper towel)
• Extra Lean Kosher Hot Dogs (preferably bun-less, only use whole grain bun option if absolutely needed)
• Chili (preferably bean-less, only use if absolutely needed and feel free to swap extra lean turkey for the beef version to cut down fat intake)
• Pizza (see “appetizers” above or use whole grain/thin crust options from restaurants or frozen food isles)
Section IV- Desserts
• Edy’s Grand Light Ice Cream
• Prograde Cravers (100% organic chocolate snacks bars)
• Cocoa Via Bars or Packs
• Low Carb Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory
• Protein Cookies (swap in protein powder for flour)
BONUS- Top 10 Tips to Save Thousands of Calories on Super Bowl Sunday
1.) Go Naked: Replace all buns or breading for sandwiches with a lettuce wrap alternative to cut calories, stabilize blood sugar, and boost fiber and micronutrient intake.
2.) Hydrate: Drink at least two to four cups of water before eating AND one to two cups every 15-30 minutes after you start eating to fill your stomach and prevent overeating that can be triggers by dehydration.
3.) Eliminate Empty Liquid Calories: Minimize or eliminate all fruit juices, regular sodas, and alcohol. Opt for water, tea, or low calorie/carb beverages in moderation to leave more room for whole food choices that have more nutritional value and better fill you up.
4.) Do not fast in preparation for a feast as it will turn your body into a famished fat-storing machine the next time you eat. The resulting low blood sugar levels that come from not eating for four hours or more make you crave junk foods high in both fat and refined sugars.
5.) Replace All White with Brown (Or Better Yet… Green!): Be sure to use the whole grain alternatives for any starch you serve at your party (e.g. chips, tortillas, breads, rice, pasta). Whole grains have more vitamins and minerals and are high in fiber which means they won’t have as negative of an impact on your blood sugar compared to its white counterparts. However, if you want to be a nutritional boy or girl scout, go one step further by replacing all brown with green in the form of green veggies (see “Go Naked” above).
6.) Focus on eating lean proteins and fruits and veggies first. Use these in unlimited amounts as needed to fill you up and best prevent the typical party “killshot” of high carb and high fat meals (e.g. thick crust pizza with extra full-fat cheese).
7.) Never eat directly out of the bag or community bowl and use smaller plates to put your food on while limiting yourself to a pre-set plate total (e.g. four plate maximum during a three-hour football game).
8.) Replace Gold With Green: Opt for guacamole over cheese for your salads and chips. Guacamole is not only low in saturated fat and high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats but it also has a ton of fiber that will help fill you up fast and prevent overeating. Though cheese is a true super food in moderation, it is very easy to overeat especially when mixed with refined carb sources like white chips and pizza.
9.) Replace Flour with Protein Powder: Few people know that protein powder makes a great cooking or baking substitute for flour (e.g. protein cookies). By adding protein and reducing carb intake you will boost metabolism.
10.) 20 Chews: Eat slowly and require a certain number of chews before you swallow to allow your brain enough time to get the “I’m full” signal (e.g. 20 pre-swallow chews).
Jeff McDaniel, BS-ES, MTC, is a local Little Rock fitness boot camp instructor and personal trainer. To book him to speak at your local Little Rock club, business, or organization, please contact him by email at email@example.com or by phone at 501-425-0661. For a free two-week trial to his Little Rock boot camp to experience the best personal training in Little Rock please visit www.jeffmcdanieltraining.com