Whether or not you’re a fan of football, the Superbowl (and other similar kinds of gatherings) can present some unique challenges around food if you attend any sort of celebration. You might find you’re feeling excited yet chaotic around the food or perhaps completely terrified of eating what will be available; either way, here are some tips for navigating a Superbowl party (or other kinds of parties/spreads).
1.) Do not skip meals or snacks beforehand.
Doing this is actually a form of both physical and mental restriction, and thus a disordered behavior. Trying to “save up” calories prior to a special occasion of eating does not do anything other than cause you to feel really urgent and chaotic around the food once you are put in front of it. If you’re ravenous by the time you get to the party, I can almost guarantee that you’ll have a less than comfortable experience with the food and your decision making capabilities around what and how much you may want to eat will be altered. If you are working with a Registered Dietitian (RD)p, it’s a great idea to plan to discuss this with them prior to the event itself and come up with a schedule for the day to incorporate all of your meals and snacks beforehand.
2.) Plate your food while you are there.
Try to treat the spread like it’s as normal of an eating experience as possible, which means making a plate and sitting down to enjoy it. You likely won’t be able to practice much non-distracted eating when you are with other and the TV is on, but you can still try to create as much normalcy with the meal as possible to normalize what you are eating and try to stay attuned to your hunger and fullness cues throughout. 3.) Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, but also remember eating past fullness is OK.
If reading this comes as a surprise to you, I encourage you to further explore why eating past comfortable satiety does not seem permissible. Even with using our hunger and fullness signals to help work with our bodies, there will be times that we either consciously or unconsciously eat past moderate/comfortable fullness. Example of a conscious experience: “I am full and satisfied from the dinner; however my friend just brought out fresh baked cookies and I want to eat them while they’re warm. I will likely feel pretty full after this, but that’s OK, it’s only temporary”. An example of an unconscious experience: “I was watching the game while also really enjoying the chicken wing dip and I think I took a few bites past comfortable fullness because I was a bit distracted. That’s alright, it will pass and I will need to eat again in the future”. 4.) Continue to practice not categorizing food as “good” or “bad”.
Depending on where you are currently at with this, you may feel pretty confident going into the experience thinking of all food as neutral or this can serve as a really great time to practice trying to reach that point! When we label anything as “bad” or “off-limits”, it increases our interest in the food. This means that if you are labeling certain foods at the party as “bad”, you actually may end up eating more of them than you would if you were thinking of food more neutrally. Try to think of the food as all on the same playing field, and remember - there is no morality to food! Think about what you truly like and want to eat and go from there, while using the other tips from above. 5.) Do not do anything differently the next day.
So you made it through Superbowl Sunday, and now it is the Monday after… Please remember that you do not need to compensate for the day before with food or physical activity. You still need to eat all of your meals and snacks today, and you have permission to include movement, if it would feel good to you and be used in a healthy and flexible way. As mentioned above, if you are working with a RD or a therapist who specializes in disordered eating or eating disorders, it might feel beneficial to discuss a plan for the day after with them as well. Enjoy this upcoming Sunday, however you may (or may not) be celebrating! Enjoy the food and experience, but remember it’s just one day out of the year and just one out of 1,095 meals you’ll eat in a year.