Hungry Girl: Tackle the Super Bowl Buffet Without Breaking Your Diet

01/27/2014 at 12:03 PM ET

Hungry Girl Super Bowl Healthy Snacks
Getty; Inset: Courtesy Hungry Girl

Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating.

She is also the author of eight Hungry Girl cookbooks, five of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.

With the inevitable buffet of fried chicken wings, piled-high pizzas, potato chips and more, a Super Bowl Sunday party calls for some super food strategy. I gathered my top tips to get you through the big game unscathed by excess calories.

Contribute To the Party. Not hosting? Bring a low-cal dish or two to share so you’ll have something healthy to eat during the game. A bag of baked tortilla chips and a bowl of my guilt-free guacamole are easy to transport — and you can have your friends guess the secret ingredient in the guac! There are also some surprisingly smart heat-and-eat options at the grocery store, like veggie hot dogs (I like MorningStar Farms Mini Veggie Corn Dogs) and veggie wings (Lightlife Smart Wings in Buffalo or Honey BBQ are so good!). But if you’re throwing the party, don’t be a snack drag: Go 50/50 between slim and full-fat eats so there’s something for everyone.

Plan for the Main Meal. Chances are you’ll want/need some food beyond just snacks. Chili can be a low-fat, fiber-packed option, as long as it doesn’t look too greasy. (For a canned version, try Amy’s Organic Medium Black Bean Chili.) Subs and deli sandwiches can be good for you, too. Find a turkey sandwich, skip the cheese and mayo, and add mustard (plus pickles, if they’ve got ‘em!). Just beware of the foot-longs: big portions mean big calories either way.

Outsmart Fried Chicken and Pizza. If you can’t bring a healthy dish and all you see is junk food galore, don’t stress. Go for fried chicken (preferably breast meat) and discretely ditch the fatty skin. If there’s just pizza, stick with a plain slice or one topped with fresh veggies. Then blot off any excess oil, and add red pepper flakes — the heat will slow down your eating and inspire you to drink more water. Speaking of which…

Drink Up! Drinking water keeps you hydrated and can help you avoid idle snacking. If you’re a soda person, make sure you have zero-calorie versions around. As for beer, stick with light options that have 110 calories a serving or less. Some ultra-light versions have as few as 55 calories in a can or bottle.

And hey, if your team loses, you can always comfort yourself with my swap for John Elway’s brownie sundaes. Go long!

Til next time… Chew the right thing!

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