How to Avoid Mindless Eating During March Madness



Each year, during the month of March, we enter into what is known as March Madness, a plethora of college basketball games that in the end will crown national champions on the men/women’s side during the first week in April. With the full-time availability of games via phones, tablets and TV, a Saturday afternoon could come down to watching college hoops for the majority of the day. There will be a need to fuel the body and we can typically eat more when watching sporting events with family and/or friends.

Did you know that your college basketball teams’ on-the-court performance could influence how you eat? (Especially if your team doesn¹t fare well on its way to The Big Dance.) According to a GrubHub study in 2014, pizza orders are 19% more common after losses than wins, and dessert orders increase more than 9% if your team gets knocked out of the tournament. Talk about “emotional eating.” But your waistline shouldn’t depend on the fate of your team…

Here are a few tips from Tami Lyon, MPH, RD, for avoiding mindless snacking and overeating during March Madness. Tami served as the nutrition specialist for student athletes at UC Berkeley with eating and weight issues. This year, let’s ensure your team’s performance doesn’t get the best of you!

  • At the Bar: Quarter your order — Place your order pre-game and have items come in quarterly intervals, from least to most caloric.
  • Hosting: Tapas — Offer non-traditional, healthier finger foods, such as summer rolls, grilled chicken wings, or flatbread sandwiches loaded with veggies.
  • At a Party: Bring it ‹ Bring a healthy fallback dish, such as veggies/hummus, and a bowl of clementines (mini basketballs!).
  • At the Office: Be prepared — Even if you can’t control the spread, you can know how you will say no. *MealEnders are a great way to curb overeating and conquer cravings. Pop one in your mouth when you feel the urge to overindulge.
  • College Dorm (budget): Build Your Own — Create your own corn soft taco bar with rotisserie chicken, black beans, salsa, chopped cabbage and corn. You can also make sliders with the chicken; just add BBQ sauce and buns.

Tami J. Lyon, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian with 25 years of experience helping children, adolescents and adults meet their nutrition and wellness goals. Tami received her undergraduate degree in Dietetics and Food Administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and her Master¹s of Public Health from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

As a clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, Tami provided individual counseling and patient classes for the Departments of Internal and Family Medicine, specializing in eating and weight disorders, sports nutrition and diabetes education. She was the primary dietitian for the Intensive Outpatient Eating Disorders Program at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute from 1988-1992. Tami was a contributing editor of Eating Disorders Review and a Diabetes Educator from 1988 ­ 2009.

In 1998, Tami founded Healthy Living ­ Nutritional Counseling and Consulting, a group practice to help individuals, families and groups achieve their dietary and health goals through sensible, scientifically based methods. She is also Chief Nutritionist for Mealenders and they will be giving away “survival packs” to help people not overeat during March Madness.


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