For those of us who consider ourselves diehard football fans, the beginning of football season is one of the most exciting times of the year. It’s right up there with birthdays, major holidays and surprise snow days; the possibilities for excitement, surprise and fun are essentially limitless when it comes to football season. Not only does football give you the opportunity to host parties, hang out with friends and cheer for your team like a maniac, but watching football also provides the perfect excuse to eat lots of delicious appetizers, pizza and other stereotypical “football food.” Think back to the last Super Bowl party you attended; on what other day of the year is it socially acceptable to gorge yourself on pizza, wings, and at least half a dozen dips for five hours straight?
This is where football food poses a dilemma; if you’re watching your weight or trying to maintain some semblance of a healthy diet, trying to resist snacking while sitting in front of a table loaded with cheesy pizza and creamy dips can seem torturous instead of exciting. But don’t worry, there’s a simple solution. If you make some food substitutions, it’s easy to replace notoriously unhealthy football-watching snacks with healthy ones. Read through the suggestions below for ideas of snacks that you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in:
• Portobello or Zucchini Pizzas
Most people lose all of their will power when there’s a box of cheesy pizza sitting front of them, and this is completely understandable. Pizza is delicious, but it’s also usually incredibly high in fat and calories. For a healthier option, try making personal portobello or zucchini pizzas instead of ordering delivery. You’ll have all of the yummy saucy and cheesy taste you love but without all of the carbs.
• Sweet Potato Fries
One of the healthiest and most delicious alternatives to dip-able foods like tortilla chips, potato chips and French fries is sweet potato fries . Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins B6, C and D, and are an excellent source of potassium and iron. They are typically baked instead of fried, meaning they are also much healthier than most chips. If you don’t have time to bake your own, they can usually be found in the frozen appetizers  section of your grocery store so they’ll be easy to heat up for the big game.
If you’re looking for a creamy dip that’s not made from mayonnaise, sour cream or cream cheese, look no further than hummus. Hummus is made from chickpeas, which are high in both protein and fiber but low in fat and calories, so it’s the perfect addicting dip that you can eat a ton of without feeling bloated or guilty. Try it with veggies or toasted whole wheat pita chips for a much healthier update on traditional chips and dip.
• Turkey Chili
Chili is one of the most famous football foods out there, but if you’re loading your bowl with buckets of cheese and sour cream, you’re adding hundreds of additional calories to your day that probably aren’t necessary. You don’t have to skip the chili entirely, though; try turkey chili instead for a leaner take on the hearty classic. Go easy on the cheese and sour cream and try using Greek yogurt and green onions instead.
So, the next time you crowd around the TV to watch the game, make sure you have some of these snacks in front of you instead of ones loaded with calories and fats that we just don’t need. They’ll fill you up, taste delicious, and you’ll be able to focus on watching the game instead of your growling stomach.