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Rene Johnston  /  Toronto Star via ZUMA Press file
With all the chili, chicken wings and pizza, some party-goers will chow down more than 3,000 calories on Super Bowl Sunday.
By Jane Weaver Health editor
msnbc.com
updated 2/3/2006 3:10:45 PM ET 2006-02-03T20:10:45

It's nearly Super Bowl Sunday — are you ready for some high-calorie, high-fat food?

Fried chicken wings. Party-sized bags of Cheetos. Nachos with Cheese Whiz. Chips and dip. Beer, beer and more beer.

The Super Bowl may be the worst day of the year when it comes to eating.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers in the big game, lots of fans will also be munching a lot of "Roethlis-burgers," a sandwich named for Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that's loaded with beef, sausage, barbecue sauce, egg and several kinds of cheese. Topped with ranch dressing, the burgers boast a whopping 615 calories and 46 grams of fat, according to Recipezaar.com.

At least the Thanksgiving menu includes vegetables.

It's not that any of the Super Bowl foods are so terrible by themselves, but because the Super Bowl has turned into a day-long event, people tend to eat non-stop for hours.

"People get so involved in the game, there’s a lot of mindless eating that goes on," says David Grotto, a Chicago-area nutrition expert and spokesperson for American Dietetic Association.

It's not just the chicken wings; it's the chicken wings with pizza, chili, guacamole and all the other loaded-with-fat foods people nosh at parties, in bars and at restaurants.

And don't forget the beer.

One out of seven Americans orders take-out or restaurant delivery food on Super Bowl Sunday, according to the National Restaurant Association estimates. At least 58 percent order pizza, 50 percent scarf chicken wings and 20 percent go for for a sub or sandwich. Another one in 20 Americans watches the game at restaurants or bars.

If January is the time when dedicated weight-watchers resolve to drop all their holiday pounds, then Super Sunday is the day many decide to blow it out.

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After all, Monday is only a day away.

Some party-goers will consume at least 3,000 calories on Super Bowl day, including the food they eat before and after the game, Grotto estimates. The daily recommendation for adults is 2,000 calories, with no more than 30 percent of total calories (or 65 grams) coming from fat.

Grotto suggests eating fruits or vegetables before you go to a party to fill you up, and to drink plenty of fluids "before, during and after the game."

No, he doesn't mean beer.

For dieters who don't want to be embarrassed being the only one crunching carrot sticks during a Super Bowl party, Grotto says it's important to have an eating game plan. Ask the host or hostess what is being served and whether you can bring your own dish so you can control fat and calories.

"If you're going to overeat, eat foods that have a lot of volume and fewer calories," says Grotto.

Recent studies show that people will even load up on stale popcorn if it's in a large bowl, so party hosts should put lighter foods like baked chips or salads in big bowls and oil-drenched snacks in smaller dishes.

Some marketers are pushing healthier fare such as low-calorie dips made with low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream or baked snacks instead of greasy chips. For nutrition-minded football fans, Jennifer Simmons, director of nutrition with L.A. Weight Loss Centers in Horsham, Pa., recommends sticking to salsa with your chips and reduced-fat cheese on nachos.

But even if you overindulge, don't panic. "The main thing to remember — it’s one day," she says.  "Just get back on your regular eating schedule the next day and continue your regular physical activity."

Try to get some extra exercise minutes throughout the rest of the week, she adds. "That’ll help burn off some of the extra calories you consumed on Super Bowl day."

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