Lona Sandon, a clinical nutritionist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said fat free does not necessarily equate to lower calorie intake and the lack of flavor of some substitutes might actually lead people to want to eat more.
"Not everyone is going to be satisfied with the salad bowl," Sandon said in a statement. "If you're not ready to replace your entire plate with healthy alternatives, you can still significantly cut down on calories and fats by blending your favorites with some lower-calorie options and alternatives."
Offer taco salad bowls instead of burgers, substitute lean ground turkey and beans for beef or cold cuts, offer subs with lots of salad-style fixings and use less cold cuts, or grill some vegetables to help fill the plate.
Some nutritional alternatives for Super Bowl parties -- or basketball season -- are:
-- Chips: Try baked versions, lightly salted pretzels, unbuttered popcorn sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese, trail mix, unsalted nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds. These are not really calorie savers over chips, they just better nutritional value.
-- Dip: Try salsas, low-fat sour cream dips or yogurt instead of traditional chip and vegetable dips, or low-fat versions of dressing instead of traditional ranch dressing.
-- Pizza: If selecting more than one slice, substitute a slice of thin crust, veggie pizza for a slice of three-meat pizza.
-- Wings: For chicken wings, take the skin off, bake or grill instead of deep frying. Use low-fat versions of cream cheese, sour cream and blue cheese or substitute plain Greek yogurt.
-- Chili: Try meatless chili with different types of beans. Include rice.
-- Beer/Soda: Try light wines, light beers, flavored water for soda.
-- Nachos: Cut calories with baked tortilla chips, vegetarian refried beans or mashed black beans or peppers and tomatoes.