Updated 28 September 2015

Snack-fest: you've been warned

For most sports fans snacking while watching their favourite game on TV is a must! But a World Cup binge spells trouble. Read our tips to help keep off the extra kilos.


For most sports fans snacking while watching their favourite game on TV is non-negotiable! During the Cricket World Cup things will be no different, except that the brief snack attack will turn into a full blown snack marathon lasting for weeks. Fat-laden junk foods, sugar-loaded drinks, sweets and lots of alcohol will rule, and this means trouble - big trouble!

Check out the scale now, and check it out again after the World Cup - chances are you won’t recognise yourself in a few weeks time.

While your favourite player will stay fit and healthy with all the exercise on the field, the only part of your body that will be getting any real exercise is your munching jaws. And perhaps your arm - from opening the fridge door and countless bottles of beer.  

So, what can you do to avoid looking like a big ball in a few weeks time? We all know that
taking a solemn oath to never eat any snacks during the entire World Cup is totally pointless. The World Cup is a social event, after all.

The answer, as always, lies in moderation, taking note of the kilojoule count of your favourite snacks and replacing some of them with wiser, healthier alternatives.  You don’t have to completely abstain from your favourite party snacks - just try to make some changes.

Here are a few helpful tips:

- Nuts for nuts? Go for unsalted nuts. Though nuts are a good source of protein and healthy fat and known to lower cholesterol, they are high in kilojoules and can make you gain weight, so stick to small portions. You can also opt for raisins or dried fruit instead.

- Biltong is actually not so bad - it’s a better option than eating a packet of crisps and it’s less fatty than droëwors. Just avoid biltong with a high salt content and stick to moderate servings. Also choose biltong made of lean meat, like ostrich.

- Chocolates: if you can’t go without chocolate, go for the dark variety as it contains far less sugar, and, again, stick to small portions. You can also drink low-fat hot chocolate (made with low-fat or fat-free milk) to get your fix.

- Chips: chips are very high in fat and salt. Rather opt for lightly salted homemade popcorn, without the butter, or baked pretzels.

 - Instead of cake, why not try some home-baked bran muffins? Their high-fibre content gives them a low GI, which helps stabilise blood sugar levels and to fill you up longer.

- Sweet tooth? Sweets like jelly tots, wine gums and marshmallows have traditionally been labelled as junk food, but as they contain no fat, they’re a far better option than chocolate or cake. You can also snack on dried fruit, raisins and low-fat flavoured joghurt.

- Feel like a burger? Choose a burger made of lean chicken or beef mince and have it on a wholewheat roll with some fresh tomato and lettuce. When you have a burger, don't add any chips, as the fat content in such a meal would be too high. You could have your burger with a salad, baked potato or some veggies instead.

- Snack on mealies. They are very easy to prepare in the microwave - it will take you only minutes: clean the mealie, rinse it off, wrap with paper towel, put on a plate and pop it into the microwave for about three minutes. When you smell the mealie, it’s ready to eat. It’s so tasty, you won’t need any butter or salt, but if you really insist, a very light sprinkling of vegetable salt will do.

- Feel like pizza? Lose the extra cheese and rather opt for vegetarian toppings like mushroom, pineapple and greenpepper. Salami, ham and anchovies are loaded with salt and fat. You can also opt to have pasta instead and go for tomato-based pasta sauces – avoid the creamy, cheesy ones.

- Cheese snacks: limit your cheese intake as it’s very high in fat. Harder cheeses tend to have more fat, so choose mozzarella and ricotta instead of cheddar or pecorino.

- Dips and creams: use cottage cheese or yoghurt in dips rather than cream or cream cheese.

- Meats: choose lean meat and chicken and rather have it grilled than fried. Always remove visible fat (including chicken skin). Use low-fat chicken and ostrich sausage for hotdogs.

- Fish/Sushi: go for grilled fish, not fried. When buying tinned tuna, opt for tuna in water - not oil or brine. It’s lower in fat and salt. Sushi is also a great low-fat alternative for some stylish snacking at home.

- Don’t snack directly from a package - it may easily lead you to consume all the contents. Rather portion out a handful of a snack onto a plate or serviette.

- Check out the low alcoholic beers on the market and ensure that you drink enough water throughout the day - your craving for food or alcohol could actually be a sign that your body is dehydrated and needs good clean water.

- Make a punch out of 100% fruit juices, and use soda or sparkling water to add a fizz.

 - Make sure you eat enough fruit and veggies. It will help to boost your immune system and help you escape colds and flu.Make a platter with carrot sticks, celery sticks, baby corn, baby tomatoes and mushrooms, and dip them into a tasty tzatziki, hummus or cottage-cheese dip.

- Eat all the lovely winter fruit like citrus, kiwi and guavas that are loaded with flu-busting vitamin C. Why not make fresh fruit skewers? Use chopped seasonal fruit on wooden skewers and serve with low-fat yoghurt dip. 

For more info, check out Health24's interactive food data base with over 4 000 SA foods analysed for their calorie count and fat rating - including those from Woolworths and Pick n Pay. You can also try out Health24's calorie counter.

Read more:

Kilojoule bomb in your beverages

Why junk food tastes so good

Fast food without the fat




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