First, Do No Harm continued...
"We know that a single high-fat meal does raise triglyceride levels," says Kleiner, author of Power Eating. But the effect is short-term. "Even just a day or so later, the triglyceride level will return to what it was."
Super Bowl munchers may need to show a little more care if they already have a chronic illness or if they're pregnant. "Diabetics taking insulin should watch what they eat all the time," says Kava. That may mean staying away from refined carbohydrates -- for example, avoiding soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks, and choosing diet sodas and sparkling water instead.
Most experts say that on balance, a healthy person who succumbs to the seduction of beer, burgers, and chips on Super Bowl Sunday will barely cause a blip on their personal health-status screen. But for people who are insistent upon absolutely no backsliding in their commitment to scaling down their waistline and controlling their cholesterol, there's a game plan for them to follow, even while watching the biggest football game of the year.
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends selecting fresh fruit, vegetables, baked chips, and pretzels when filling up your plate. If the party's at your house, offer entrees such as meatless chili or lean chicken strips. And for some sweet satisfaction in the fourth quarter, the ADA suggests angel food cake topped with low-fat frozen yogurt and chocolate syrup.
"Give people choices," says Kava. "If all you're serving is corned beef sandwiches and hamburgers, that's what your guests will eat. But if you have some healthier choices as well, you'll give them some options."
While a submarine sandwich (with ham, salami, and cheese) has about 450 calories and 17 grams of fat, a typical low-fat hot dog on a reduced-calorie bun contains only 130 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. A slice of carrot cake with cream cheese icing has about 480 calories and 29 grams of fat, compared with a slice of angel food cake that will provide only about 70 calories and 0.2 grams of fat.