It's 2012, Super Bowl XLVI, and we have another stellar matchup in the NFL's ultimate game. The New England Patriots face the New York Giants in a rematch of Super Bowl XLII (2007), perhaps the most exciting championship game in league history, won by Eli Manning, David Tyree and Plaxico Burress in the final seconds.
While the Giants and Patriots fight for every inch on the field, viewers will fight a battle against horrid nutrition commonplace at "Spread" parties around the globe. Horrid means delicious; delicious means non-nutritious. Expect a tough offense on the buffet table.
Here pal, try a bowl of melted queso with refried beans and hamburger. How about a 24-foot sub sandwich with mayo and processed meat stacked on enriched breads? Fill your plate with hot wings and barbecue-sauced ribs, with ranch dipping sauce and celery sticks (not for nutrition, but to alleviate the heat from Uncle Ed's famous/secret recipe).
Did the oven break? No worries, order six large pizzas, jalapeno poppers, pigs-in-a-blanket, guacamole in a bowl so deep your forearm goes green, a cheese and sausage tray inspired by Salvador Dali, smoked alligator served from its dead jaws, quesadillas with sour cream, a cake and candy conglomeration built in vague replication of Lucas Oil Stadium, and on and on, in and out.
Don't forget the drinks! Super Bowl parties are notoriously inebriated. Sometimes it's a case of beer, or a bottle of sour mash. Some fans even pair wine to match their feasts.
All this will be displayed before and during the game, probably on an open table with no rules of etiquette (except for double-dippers!). You can just walk up, fill your plate and break the vow you swore at the birth of the New Year.
Your Defensive Strategy
The best solution to this conundrum is to refrain. Don't eat it, and you can't regret it. Temptation and hunger get the best of us, however and if you must be trapped beside a buffet for 5 hours, you might as well do it healthy.
If you are the host, oh boy can you be sneaky! You can infuse healthy recipes into the equation and trick your guests into thinking they have indulged. If you are a guest, bring a dish that fits into your diet and eat that while avoiding the rest.
Run the skinny post and keep your own end tight with these 10 pointers.
Moderation is important to any diet, but even moderate drinkers will still ingest spirits' empty calories. Each beer, cocktail or glass of wine adds to your caloric intake. It's best to avoid alcohol altogether.
If you need a drink that's OK, just don't go on a binge, feed you face and regret it Monday morning (if you remember).
It's both the skin (made of fatty tissues) and the stuff we plaster across it that boosts fat and calories. We batter and bread, coat and marinate chicken to the point that you can barely taste its original flavor.
Remove the skin before you eat it. Or, even better: use the boneless, skinless chicken breasts you cook with all week long and add some hot sauce.
Football clichés prevail in couch convo, but your cousin Jerry isn't the cheesiest in the room. That title goes to the cheese dip, fried cheese, cheeseburgers, cheese poppers, cheese and crackers, cheese balls, cheese doodles and Cheetos!
Some cheese is OK, but if you stake a claim in front of the fondue, your diet will break like the hearts of the Buffalo Bills.
If It's Your Goal...
The buffet table can be a blessing in disguise. The party will undoubtedly have more meat than an offensive line.
Avoid the dips and sauces, but roast beef, turkey, chicken and steak are fine. Good food builds good muscle.
You do this every day anyway. Your meals are sacred, so why leave a whole Sunday night open to failure? Bring your cooler and containers and take care of your own.
If people give you guff about chicken and rice, just tackle them through a screen door. You've been squatting, so get low, extend with the hands, and drive your hips. If you need pointers, try actually watching the game for a few minutes.
Odds are someone will bring a simple deli tray with carrots, broccoli and some ranch dip. Don't limit vegetables to simple staples! Add peppers and cabbage, or green onions, lettuce varieties, onions and more.
Open your mind to vegetables, the best of all finger foods, and you won't come up short like poor Kevin Dyson.
You may allow yourself a cheat meal, but don't do it today. Save that for a controlled environment with the specific cheat meal you have chosen prior.
If you allow yourself one cheat when a dozen are available, you may give in, give up, and get fat again. Why not bring your cheat dessert with you? Then, when the cravings strike, you'll be ready... and you can share!
A double bacon cheeseburger is not a cheat meal, it's a fast-track for a luncheon with Al Davis. Those polish sausages… well, you know. Bust out your chicken breasts and show them what clean eating can taste like!
Watch deviled eggs, loaded with mayo and salts. Sugar is everywhere on the condiment shelf: ketchup, barbecue sauce, dressings, etc. If you won't put it on your lunch at home, why plaster it now?
If you are on a carb-depletion plan, then eat lunch without the bun, without the crackers, without the lasagna aunt Edna makes every year.
Be careful what you say and how you decline taste tests. You can hurt feelings with a denial. Be kind, respectful and firm.
You are on a diet, not in prison. There is no reason to stay home when all your friends are gathered for commercial-fed laughter and the most popular event on television. Your diet should limit your food intake, not your fun intake.
Do not closet yourself from the world. Get out and live. This is the biggest game of the year. Don't turn it into your biggest feast of the year and you'll do just fine.