Feed the armchair athlete: survive the footy season without weight gain

Fast food cartons and empty chip bags litter the TV room on footy nights. It’s bad enough that we’re a nation of sports’ watchers rather than players, but add high kilojoule snacks to a couch workout and you have a recipe for fatter viewers. Men already top the obesity ranking in Australia (65% of men and 45% of women are overweight or obese) and saturated fat adds to a bloke’s risk of colon cancer and heart disease, so it makes sense to overhaul the sacred footy food frenzy.

Throw down a couple of stubbies, a couple of slices of commercial pizza, some crispy potato chips and nuts during the course of your armchair sport's viewing and you've consumed enough to fuel 5 hrs of top level sport! Another way to think of this armchair fodder is that it is the same amount of fuel (6400kJ or 1500cals) needed for an entire day on most weight reduction programs.

How can the game plan for food be improved?

Go for speed by grabbing ready made, zero-effort supermarket ideas – there are loads to choose from in every supermarket

  • Replace the cream cheese dips with yoghurt (tzatziki) or tomato based dips (salsa)
  • Choose grissini (bread sticks) or crackers labelled 97% fat free rather than the small spicy, cheese savoury bikkies and water crackers
  • Slide the salami and cabanossi to the side and slip in deli ham, roast meats, prawns, and bottled or canned oysters and mussels
  • Turn your back on packets of corn chips and potato chips. Get pretzels and popcorn instead (choose microwave lite or buy a popcorn maker to make air-popped corn)
  • Add bowls of pickled party onions, gherkins, and olives in vinegar or brine

Try these super-easy, no-fuss hot ideas for warm finger foods

  • Skip the heart stopping snags, party pies and sausage rolls. Clean off the jaffle maker, plug it in the TV room. Your guests can cook on-demand their own hot savoury jaffles filled with egg, baked beans, spaghetti, chopped skinless chicken (buy a hot chook, pull the skin off and break up the flesh). Maybe for the finals or your team’s game, put in a little more effort with hot skinless chicken legs, skewers of BBQ marinated meats, and mini-rissoles.
  • Pump out oven-rack spuds or microwaved potatoes and corn cobs. Top them with dollops of natural yoghurt for a sour cream flavour without the saturated fat.
  • Home deliver personalised mini pizzas. Before the game starts, line up small ready made pizza bases and bowls of seafood, lean ham, sliced mushrooms, capsicum, roasted vege, and mozzarella, so that your guests can top their own.
  • Heat it up with a pot of Mexican beans and beef or curry. Create a big pot of spicy beans and beef a day or so before the match. Plonk the reheated pot with wrap breads or crusty hot rolls in front of your guests for a substantial feed. This is also great taken steaming hot in a thermos when you go to a venue to watch a match.

Put these ideas into a challenge with a taste test on ardent TV footy fans at your place.

Email your comments and ideas to share with others.

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