Preparing for the “Big Game”

February 06, 2024 | by Annie Scott, RD, LDN, MPH
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

What’s your reason for watching the NFL’s championship game this year? Are you a huge football fan, anticipating the commercials or just watching because Taylor Swift’s boyfriend is in it? Whatever the reason might be, it’s always an exciting event with snacks and parties.

However, sometimes it can be a stressful event for people and too much excitement can be dangerous for people with underlying heart conditions. Here are some tips to make it healthy and happy:

  • Monitor your “fanxiety”: Whether you are a 49ers fan, Chiefs fan or rooting for a specific team to win, it can be nerve racking when your team isn’t doing well. It has been shown that many people — especially die-hard fans — can have higher anxiety levels (also sometimes referred to as “fanxiety”). Cheering on your team can be fun, however for some it can increase blood pressure, which can potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke for certain individuals. Pay close attention to symptoms like shortness of breath, chest tightness, palpitations or dizziness and seek immediate medical attention.

  • Get active, not angry: The game can be stressful for some, and when stress and drinking combine, it can lead to anger or even violence. If you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated, try releasing steam in a healthy way. For example: anytime your team isn’t playing well, do some jumping jacks, take a walk or have a stress ball on-hand.

  • Plan for healthy snacks: Most parties are loaded with foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories. Try incorporating more vegetables in your typical appetizer recipes and aim to have at least 1-2 healthy snack choices. There are many different ways to modify recipes to make them healthier and still taste good! For example, if a recipe calls for the following, try these substitutions:
    • Sour cream = nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • Mayonnaise = avocado
    • Ground beef = ground chicken or turkey
    • Deep frying = air fryer

  • Beware of betting: Another added stress could be if you or a loved one likes to bet. Sports betting is legal in many states and can often be triggering for those that might have a gambling addiction. Betting on football teams may be fun, but for some it can lead to great loss of money and even more. Be realistic about your budget and it will help save you stress if things don’t go your way.

  • Watch your alcohol consumption: While many people like to drink beer and other alcoholic beverages during the game, it is important to set limits if you do, especially those with heart conditions, diabetes or anxiety. Too much alcohol can lead to dehydration and other harmful consequences. Be mindful of your drinking and plan ahead. If you know that there will be a lot of alcohol at the party, bring a water bottle with you so you don’t forget to stay hydrated. There are also a lot of non-alcoholic beverages on the market today, including different types of non-alcoholic beers (IPAs, Golden Ales, Pilsners). Get the taste without the negative consequences.

Here are two recipes for your party:

Buffalo cauliflower wings in the air fryer


  • ½ head cauliflower
  • ½ cup buffalo sauce we used Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, 120 mL
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • To serve: creamy dip (like ranch or bleu cheese) and celery stalks


  1. Prep: Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets. In a large bowl, gently stir together cauliflower and all remaining ingredients.
  2. Cook: Lightly grease your air fryer basket or rack. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer (working in batches if they don't all fit in a single layer). Cook at 375°F (190°C) for 12 to 15 minutes, or until fork tender and slightly browned.
  3. Serve: Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce and celery sticks.

To cook this in an oven, bake in a single layer at 450°F (230°C) for about 25 minutes.

Deviled eggs with avocado


  • 12 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lime Juice (more if needed to blend)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more to taste if needed)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Paprika and chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)


  1. Cut hard-boiled eggs in half and gently scoop yolks into a food processor. Set the sliced egg whites aside for later.
  2. Cut and scoop the avocados into the food processor with the egg yolks. Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. You can also mix the ingredients by hand using a fork for a more textured filling.
  3. Adjust seasonings if needed. Scoop mixture into a piping bag. Or you can use a plastic sandwich bag, and snip off one corner. Pipe the filling into the eggs.
  4. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and chopped cilantro. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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