Data Reveals Exactly How Much You Eat during the Super Bowl

February 1st 2015

Kathleen Toohill

Americans may eat more during the Super Bowl than during Thanksgiving. According to data that details the calories per serving of food purchased at grocery stores the week before each of the these events, the Super Bowl trumps America’s most famous annual feast. The second unhealthiest week of the year, in terms of calorie-dense food purchased, is not the week before Thanksgiving, but two weeks before the Super Bowl. 

And lest you were worried that the suffix –gate wasn’t pervasive enough in pop culture, the Super Bowl is now being referred to as inflate-gate, a nod to the deflate-gate scandal that somehow seems to have aroused just as much, if not more, outrage than the issue of domestic violence in the NFL. 

According to the Calorie Control Council, Americans eat an estimated 2,400 calories during the Super Bowl. “You do tend to overeat because you’re so busy paying attention to the game, you don’t realize what’s going in your mouth,” exercise psychologist Tom Holland told ABC News. 

Americans reportedly eat over 1.2 billion chicken wings, 11.2 million potato chips, and 11 million slices of Domino’s pizza during the Super Bowl. But this huge boon to the poultry industry, potato farmers and Domino’s doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for you. It is possible to indulge in seven layer dip and other football favorites without throwing an entire month of post-New-Year’s-resolution healthy eating out the window. Here’s how. 

Bring lighter fare

If you’re looking for healthier alternatives to Super Bowl mainstays, has collected eleven recipes for healthy Super Bowl options, including Lemon-Drop Chicken Wings (sorry KFC), spinach-artichoke dip, and beef and beer chili

Fine, you might say, this would be all well and good if I was going to stay home by myself, but even if I bring one of these healthier dishes to a party, I’m going to be surrounded by other unhealthy alternatives for at least four hours. And if my team is losing and I’m crying into my healthy beef and beer chili, or the stadium loses power and I’m bored and have already wolfed down all of my light spinach-artichoke dip, what am I supposed to do?

Use the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule of healthy eating suggests that eating healthy 80% of the time helps allow for indulgence, or at least flexibility, the other 20% of the time. This is less a diet strategy than a way of life, and considering the widespread consensus that fad diets do not work, it may be much more sustainable than trying to avoid your favorite and most fattening foods for the rest of your life. If you aren't already eating healthfully, well, then let's just say that your 80% starts after Super Bowl Sunday.  

WebMD refers to the 80/20 plan as the “weekend diet.”  Kathleen M. Zelman writes in the Expert Column for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic that she employs the 80/20 system in her own life. “Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too,” Zelman writes, “as long as the slice is small -- and you keep up your activity.”

Zelman doesn’t recommend going hog wild on the weekends, but rather, she suggests keeping portions small and continuing to exercise even on flex days. Going for a run or hitting the gym the morning of the Super Bowl can help offset the calories consumed later in the day, not to mention balance out all that time spent on the couch. 

Try these tips and tricks

Eating well in the days preceding and following the Super Bowl can also help limit the effects of any potential binging. If you’re hosting a party, encourage guests to take home leftovers and donate any food that’s salvageable, rather than continuing to snack on it for days on end. 

Drinking plenty of water leading up to and during the Super Bowl can also help prevent overeating. 

Registered dietician and Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods Market Lindsey Kane suggests employing a  "calculated risk" strategy. 

“It’s the Super Bowl! Of course you are going to eat something that you don’t normally eat on a regular basis, and that’s totally fine,” Kane writes. “The key to indulging without any residual guilt or going completely overboard is to indulge mindfully. Be proactive, identify what you want to splurge on, and make it a SMART indulgence (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely).” 

Kane also recommends using breaks like time outs and commercials (unless, of course, you’re watching for the commercials) to assess whether one feels full. 

So try to eat healthy before the Super Bowl, keeping your stomach as deflated as possible before the big game.

After all, it worked for the Patriots.