Newswise — Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest eating and drinking days of the year and with the spread of snacks on tables across America, often, it’s easy to overeat. It is estimated that Americans eat over one billion wings during Super Bowl weekend, according to the National Chicken Council, and consume approximately 2,400 calories during the game, according to the National Calorie Council. The rich foods, alcohol and the amount consumed on Super Bowl Sunday can trigger digestive issues including heartburn, acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome. It’s no wonder that an estimated 16 million Americans report taking a sick day the following day.
“Processed foods high in fat and sugary beverages are likely to wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal tract, if not at the time of ingestion, then in the hours that follow,” said Dr. Shilpa Ravella, a gastroenterologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “There are plenty of ways to turn typical Super Bowl Sunday foods into healthier snacks your body won’t regret later.”
Dr. Ravella urges football fans to control their approach to food. She recommends using a smaller plate when selecting snacks, which may help you to eat less. It may also make you feel better to exercise earlier in the day. In addition, pace yourself, especially when consuming alcohol.
These eight “dos and don’ts” can help guide you in selecting Super Bowl snacks that may be kinder to your digestive system.
- Reduce intake of fatty foods. Fat is harder to digest, so avoid foods that are high in saturated fat (animal products), heavily processed or deep fried. These foods are more likely to cause indigestion, bloating, nausea, stomach pains and diarrhea. Instead of cheesy pizza, try veggie pizza. And instead of frying, bake, roast or grill foods; for example, replace fried wings with grilled chicken skewers.
- Don’t overeat. Overeating stretches the stomach, and research has found that people who overeat during national holidays and national sporting events are ten times more likely to need emergency medical attention for food obstruction than at any other time of the year. Always remember to chew your food well, and be mindful of how full you’re getting. If you’re prone to acid reflux, stop eating within an hour of going to bed.
- Choose beverages wisely. Be mindful of drinking sugary beverages like sodas and avoid too much alcohol and caffeine. These can be gastrointestinal irritants for people with sensitive stomachs. Coffee and alcohol speed up digestion, meaning there is less time for the intestines to absorb water, which can cause watery, diarrhea-like stools after a night of drinking. Beer, ale and rum can be especially bad because they are higher in FODMAPS, a group of carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the intestine.
- Offer healthy substitutions. Provide guests with nutritious options, such as: nuts, fruits (especially berries), multigrain or whole-grain crackers and chips, non-spicy guacamole, baked (not fried) chicken, salads, fresh vegetables and water with lemon or citrus garnishes.
- Do go nuts. The best sources of fat are whole plant foods like nuts, seeds and avocados. These foods are great sources of unsaturated fats. They have fewer calories, more fiber and more nutrients than foods that are high in saturated fats from animal products or trans fats. Studies have shown that nuts have an even greater longevity-promoting effect than olive oil. They can also help with weight management and reduce risk for cardiovascular and other diseases. Some of the healthiest nuts are walnuts, almonds and pistachios.
- Drink plenty of water. Processed foods can be very high in salt, which can cause your body to retain water, increasing blood volume and leading to bloating. Drinking water after an especially high-sodium meal can help rid some of the sodium from your body and reduce symptoms. Staying hydrated with water can help prevent or reduce hangover symptoms as well. In general, drinking water is important for adequate digestion, as low water consumption can lead to issues like constipation. Water can increase satiety and improve your metabolic rate, so it can also help you lose weight. Timing is also important: drinking water 30 minutes before meals can make you feel fuller so that you eat fewer calories.
- Go easy the next day. Go easy on your stomach by eating whole plant foods with minimal ingredients, and avoid high-fat, processed foods and fast food entirely. Oatmeal, bananas and vegetable soups are great options for the next day. Stay well-hydrated, and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Substitute sugary, processed desserts for pieces of dark chocolate with at least 80% cacao, which has minimal sugar.
- Substitute meat topping pizzas with vegetable pizza.
- Instead of fried chips, substitute baked chips for dipping in salsas and guacamole.
- Instead of carbohydrate-dense or high fructose corn syrup snacks, serve colorful, nutrient-rich berries.
- Instead of ice cream, offer fruit sorbets. Lactose can be hard for many people to digest.
- Instead of chicken wings, go for “veggie wings” i.e. buffalo cauliflower or roasted ranch broccoli.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic healthcare delivery systems, whose organizations are dedicated to providing the highest quality, most compassionate care and service to patients in the New York metropolitan area, nationally, and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and innovative, patient-centered clinical care.
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