sports-snacksLimiting calories can be a challenge with the approaching summer holidays, cricketing season with the world cup and IPL around the corner, and for football fans, the American Bowl game and later the tennis tournaments… Game seasons become food seasons as well and can take a toll on health, weight and overall fitness! Expert nutritionists and the American calorie control council estimate that people consume in excess of 2400 calories everyday while watching the bowl game!

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) found that the risk of getting colon, endometrial and lung cancer went up by 25% with each two hour TV viewing. The researchers believe the increased risk is due to drinking sweetened beverages, including soft drinks and junk foods high in saturated fats and sugars.  Apart from cancer, the prolonged sitting raises the risk of diabetes by 30% and heart disease risk by 45%.

Many psychologists and famous nutritionists believe what we eat is determined by subtle clues in our environment. Psychologist, Brian Wasink explains in his book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, that we eat more than what we should, when we are distracted by TV. Researchers from the University of Toronto made children in the study group eat lunch while watching The Simpsons and found that these children consumed 228 calories more than those who did not watch TV while eating!

The usual favorites that are ordered during game watching include pizza, soft drinks, French fries and a dessert, which add up to a whopping 3000 calories, and 50 to 100 grams of saturated fat!

Be mindful of the Ca-LOW-rie

Mindful eating, planning your meals and activity before, during and after the games or TV viewing seasons will go a long, long way in preventing calorie overload. Chalk out an exercise program that is more rigorous during and after the season. Schedule a 45 minute jog in the morning and a brisk half an hour walk or stair climbing in the evening before dinner. Every time there is a commercial break, get up, stretch, jog on the spot or if you have a stationary bike, cycle for as long as the break lasts.

As for the food, choose healthy, low fat and low calorie foods.  Include more of veggie sticks in simple dips like pudina, onion or tomato chutneys. Grill or microwave vegetables and coat them with spices of your choice,  make skimmed milk and fruit smoothies, make your own sugar free masala juices (just add chaat masala, lemon juice, salt and pepper to any fresh fruit juice), make your own healthy chaats with grated veggies and puffed rice/boiled corn or chana.

Here are some more tips on controlling calories:

Sauté vegetables and other foods with a light cooking oil spray in a non stick pan. Steam, pressure cook, microwave or bake instead of frying.

Enrich your everyday dishes with fiber and protein. Both fiber and protein can help burn more calories since the body has to work harder to digest them. Add a dash of wheat bran, wheat germ, whole grain oats, sprouted jowar, ragi or bajra to your regular flours, breakfasts, curries and soups.

Use natural sugar substitutes when making sweets and desserts.  Substitute sugar for fresh dates, cinnamon, raisins or cardamom powder.

Order from the light or calorie controlled menus offered in your locality, or purchase roasted or low fat savouries.

Never skip meals. Eat three to six times a day in smaller portions to keep from getting hungry.

Use a smaller plate at mealtime to satisfy your psychological need to see a full plate.

Eat and chew slowly. Learn to stop eating before you feel full. (It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is full)

Talk to an expert nutritionist at for more tips on controlling calories.

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