The most unhealthy Super Bowl party foods to avoid

Football playoffs are in full swing, which means Super Bowl parties are right around the corner. This is basically the universe's way of laughing at you for trying to stick to your New Year's resolutions because (let's be real) you know you're going to want to eat all that fabulous tailgating food. Here's the deal: celebrations are celebrations, so indulging a little bit every now and then is just part of living life as a human, but there's a big difference between indulging a little and throwing yourself off the healthy food wagon with zealous, gluttonous abandon. Rather than going out of your way to completely undo all the smart choices you've made over the last month, just try steering clear of the following foods at your Super Bowl party.

Deep-fried buffalo wings

Buffalo wings aren't all bad — they do offer some protein, after all. In fact, asmall serving of Buffalo Wild Wings traditional wings delivers 82 grams of protein. Unfortunately, those same wings also deliver 38 grams of fat (13 grams of saturated fat) in 670 calories. All in all? Those aren't great stats. Besides, you probably aren't going to cut yourself off from the buffet table after eating a small serving of wings. Look, if football games just aren't football games without a plate piled high with wings, try a baked recipe, like this one from Recipe Tin Eats, or test out a cauliflower wings recipe, like this one I put together myself. I know cauliflower "wings" sound disgusting, but you'd be surprised. When you eat them warm, they taste eerily like the real deal. Either way, your gut will thank you for the substitution. If you decide to try the baked chicken wings, you'll cut down on the fat and calorie content (and a little sodium, too), and if you give the cauliflower version a go, you're basically just eating veggies.

Loaded nachos

Loaded nachos offer a little bit of everything — crunchy chips, melty cheese, meaty goodness, and enough fat and calories to set you back almost an entire day. Yes, nachos really hit the spot, but are they really worth the damage? Skip the nachos and opt for a small bowl of tortilla chips with salsa and a single serving of guac. You still get the crunchy, salty indulgence of an appetizer but with a serving or two of veggies instead of enough sodium to cause your feet to swell.

Queso dip

Classic queso made with Velveeta cheese and Rotel tomatoes is basically junk. Have you ever felt Velveeta cheese? It's disgusting. Real cheese doesn't act the way Velveeta acts. Sure, once it's all melty and seasoned, it's got an addictive flavor, but there's no way you can justify queso as anything but an unhealthy indulgence. Granted, it doesn't douse you in fat and calories the way some of the other items on this list do. Generic queso has about 100 calories and 7 grams of fat per 2-ounce serving, but good luck finding someone who's only ever eaten 2 ounces of queso. That's like two shot glasses of it. Let's be real, no one stops at two shot glasses of melted cheese. Not to mention, those stats don't account for the nutritional content of your queso delivery tools (you know, chips, bread, pretzels, hot dogs), or any added mix-ins, like bacon or ground beef. Again, if you want to enjoy chips, serve yourself a small bowl and enjoy them with salsa and guacamole. At least you'll enjoy a hefty dose of folate and vitamins C, K, and E from the avocado.

Margaritas

It's hard to hate on the salty, sweet limey flavor of a frosty margarita … until you take a minute to look at the drink's sugar content. Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating, says, "Margaritas may be the least healthy drink and most caloric drink of all. This is especially true if you use a salt-rimmed glass and use a premade margarita mix. This drink ranges from 600 to 900 calories." If you drink two or three of those bad boys, you've basically just wiped out your entire calorie "budget" for the day, and again, you know you're not going to let that stop you from noshing on all the other Super Bowl snacks. If you're dead set on enjoying a margarita, Ficek suggests making it yourself to better control the calories and ingredients.

Or just skip the margaritas entirely. Most light 12-ounce beers are right around 100 calories, and a standard 5-ounce glass of wine typically has around 200 calories. You can enjoy a celebratory (or commiserative) drink with your friends without completely tanking your sugar intake.

Meat lover's pizza

Don't get me wrong, I love pizza as much as the next person, but that meat lover's pizza isn't doing your body any favors. For one, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine included it on its list of Amazingly Unhealthy Super Bowl Foods, calling out Papa John's "The Meats" pizza as being particularly sinful, racking up a whopping 56 grams of fat for just two slices of pizza. But it's not just the bready, fatty, meatiness that does these pizzas in — it's the type of meat so prevalent on meat lover's pizzas. Namely, processed meats like pepperoni, sausage, and bacon. Registered dietitian Rene Ficek explains why these are particularly bad for you: "Most processed meat products contain chemical preservatives that make them appear fresh and appealing," noting that some have been linked to increased risks of cancer. If you're dying for pizza, opt for a thin crust veggie lover's version instead.

Brownies, cakes, and cookies

Baked goods don't have to be completely off-limits, but they don't have a whole lot going for them nutritionally. They're essentially just sugar, simple carbs, and fats, all packaged up in cute and delicious morsels. A single-serving brownie (which is not much brownie) made from a prepared mix has about 170 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 16 grams of sugar. And no one cuts a pan of brownies into 20 individual servings. Maybe 16. Maybe 12. Either way, in all likelihood, you're getting a whole lot more than you bargain for when you bite into that tasty dessert. This doesn't mean you need to ditch the sweets completely. A healthier option would be chocolate-dipped strawberries (there are some super cute ideas for decorating them like footballs) or vegan chocolate pudding made from acorn squash. Again, I know pudding made from squash sounds nasty, but I have tried this recipe and it's so good I just bought more acorn squash to make it again. All I did differently was substitute 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips for the coconut sugar, cacoa powder, and syrup. Tastes just like pudding when chilled, I promise.

Hot dogs, sausages, and bratwurst

Remember all the problems with processed meats and their preservatives I mentioned earlier? They haven't changed. While main dishes like hot dogs, sausages, and bratwursts are certainly filling and packed with protein, they're not exactly "clean eating." If you absolutely can't make it through the Super Bowl without your fix of meat stuffed inside a casing, spend a little more on a variety that features meat from humanely raised animals fed grass or organic food. At least this way you'll skip the added hormones prevalent in the mainstream meat industry.

Fried mozzarella sticks

Fried mozzarella sticks are fried cheese, folks. You seriously can't imagine this is good for you, right? Just using Arby's as an example, a regular-size side order clocks in at 425 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 1,370 milligrams sodium. Not to mention, 10 of the 23 grams of fat are saturated fat. Mozzarella sticks are good, but they're not that good. If you're dying to eat something fried, opt for a psuedo-fried vegetable, like these crispy, breaded baked zucchini sticks from SkinnyTaste. Sure, they're not the perfect substitute (nothing could substitute perfectly for fried cheese), but that doesn't mean they don't taste good. Just different. Plus, a single serving offers more fiber and protein than you'd get in the cheese sticks, not to mention the vitamins and minerals found in zucchini. Seriously, it's a win. You should try it.

Hamburger sliders

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not knocking hamburgers in and of themselves. Hamburgers are a perfectly acceptable (although not straight-up healthy) Super Bowl food. What I'm knocking, specifically, are sliders. Sliders are sneaky little devils. They're all tiny and cute, making you think you can easily pack away three or four of them without any major damage, but that's where you'd be wrong. Just for comparison's sake, let's compare a McDonald's hamburger to a single White Castle slider. A McDonald's hamburger has 250 calories and 8 grams of fat. You also feel like you had a full burger, so even if you eat a few sides and whatnot, you're less likely to go back for a second main course. A single, tiny White Castle slider, on the other hand, has 140 calories and 6 grams of fat. But it's tiny, so obviously you're going to eat more than one. Well, two of 'em amount to 280 calories and 12 grams of fat — already more than that McDonald's hamburger — and four of 'em add up to 560 calories and 24 grams of fat. See how quickly that escalates? If you're grilling for the Super Bowl, skip the cutesy sliders and opt for regular ol' burgers. Then eat just one.

Soda

You may not be able to make it through the Super Bowl without seeing a million ads for Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Sprite, but try to make it through without drinking any of these sugar-filled beverages. It's not just the sugar that's the problem, although it certainly isn't winning any health awards. It's the way your body processes and recognizes these nutritionally void calories. Registered dietitian Rene Ficek says sugar-sweetened beverages are the one thing to avoid: "The empty calories help pad your midsection without offering any nutritional benefit or sense of satiety." In other words, you're taking in all those calories, but they don't fill you up, so you'll eat every bit as much as you normally eat, just adding calories on top of calories on top of calories. Not the best idea.