The Dangers of Football Games on Your Diet


Ever find yourself nervously munching on chips when your cherished team isn’t doing so hot? You aren’t alone. A recent study conducted by France’s INSEAD business school had some interesting findings about how wins and losses can affect our eating habits.

On Mondays, following a Sunday NFL game, participants in the study consumed 16 percent more saturated fat and 10 percent more calories when their team lost. If their team won, saturated fat decreased by 9 percent and calorie intake decreased 5 percent.

This trend seems to rise in cities with extremely devout fans, who tend to say “We lost today” versus “The Dallas Cowboys lost today”. These fans tend to eat 28 percent more saturated fat after defeats, and decrease their intake by 16 percent after victories.

In another part of their study, the researchers asked people to remember the worst sports defeat they have experienced, and found that this led to a 45 percent increase in saturated fat consumption the same day.

A healthy perception of your team’s successes and failures is important. Fans who tend to perceive failure and success as their own tend to overeat and reach for high-fat comfort foods. Emotional eating is a form of self-medication; comfort food takes the edge off of the loss.

High fat and calorie foods provide the brain with instant pleasure, but it is short lived and has long term consequences.

Common football snacks such as wings, chips, dip, hot dogs and hamburgers are full of calories, saturated fat and sodium, which in large quantities can lead to obesity and heart disease. Not only are fan’s waistlines expanding, but having an unhealthy perception about a team’s failure increases the chance of having a heart attack and getting in domestic violence disputes and traffic fatalities.

Whether you’re facing a football defeat or victory, engage yourself with others watching the game with you, and share your feelings of excitement or disappointment. Here are some ideas to keep control over your gametime snacking habits:

  • Keep snacks in the kitchen and not directly in front of the television.
  • Switch to lower calorie snacks, such as baked chips, popcorn, and light beer.

Try this quick recipe to jazz up popcorn flavor but not overload on calories:

  • Combine one tablespoon of olive oil, one teaspoon of lemon pepper, a pinch of salt, and two tablespoons of parmesan cheese with 6 cups of popped light popcorn.

Remember, no matter how devoted of a sports fan you are, it’s important to take care of the most important player in your life, you!

About the author

Emily Hein
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Emily works as a Clinical and Outpatient Dietitian at The Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano. She has a strong passion for cooking, hot yoga, and believes that moderation and enjoyable physical activity are the keys to a healthy life.

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The Dangers of Football Games on Your Diet