The biggest football celebration of the year is just around the corner. Whether your favorite team is playing or not (and the Chiefs aren’t!), or you’re watching just to see the commercials or the halftime show, the Super Bowl is a great time to get together with friends and family and have a great time. It doesn’t matter if you are the host or the guest, these tips can provide a healthy game plan for Super Bowl Sunday.

When it comes to a party, food is an important aspect for a lot of people. Avoid a “false start” with fattening foods. Add healthy snacks to your menu instead of high fat foods, or make a few ingredient adjustments (such as switching from full-fat to low-fat ingredients) to make high-fat foods a little healthier.

Eat a healthy meal or snack before the celebration to prevent overindulging. Include fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apple halves or carrot sticks, as a healthy snack option. You can even cut the fruits and vegetables into football related shapes to make them a little more fun. Many dips and dressings contain many more calories than you think. Limit portions or serve fat-free or low-fat dips and dressings. Offer foods and beverages low in fat, calories, sugars, salt, and sodium. Water is always a great alternative to sugary and caffeinated drinks.

Food safety is also important. As you prepare game day meals and snacks, take steps to avoid serving recalled products and follow food safety guidelines to prevent illness. You can visit the Food Safety website ( for information on product recalls. Always follow the Four Rules of Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill.

Don't get a “penalty” for drinking and driving. Make sure you and other guests avoid driving under the influence of alcohol. It is important to plan ahead and always designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins. Don't drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Be a helpful host by reminding your guests to designate a sober driver and offer alcohol-free beverages. And although alcohol is common during sports celebrations, remember that in pregnant women, it can cause babies to be born with problems that lead to physical and mental disabilities.

“Score a first down” by adding games that include physical activity. Physical activity doesn't need to be hard to be beneficial. Try to be active for at least two and a half hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates, and that strengthen your muscles. Dance along with the music during half time or put on your own half-time show. Toss the football around during commercial breaks. Lift hand weights, stretch, or use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching television. Take the fun outside and play a game of half-time tag football. Make your own cheers with your favorite moves.

Parties and tailgating can be fun, but it's important to pay close attention to things that may cause injury and take precautions. Injuries, both unintentional and those caused by acts of violence, are among the top 10 killers for Americans of all ages. Injuries can cause pain and inconvenience, and even lead to disability, chronic pain, and death.

Never leave children unattended. Make sure your pets can handle the excitement before placing them in new or strange situations. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper. Even when using these items outdoors, make sure they are not near an open window. Have a fire extinguisher nearby when cooking or using a grill in case there's an accidental flare-up. Have a first-aid kit in your home and vehicle to handle injuries like small cuts and bruises.

So have fun, enjoy yourself, and stay active, healthy and safe this Super Bowl Sunday.

Information from:

Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.