Shoot to Snack Smart


It’s officially March Madness — time to fill out your brackets and cheer on this year’s “Cinderella” team.

While the season is full of competition, fun, friends, and excitement, it can also be full of high-calorie and unhealthy foods—and the urge to indulge. TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds SensiblySM), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy, advocates for joining in on the hoops fun while making healthy choices throughout the tournament.

Snacking smart can be a slam dunk, especially if you take the time to think about these questions:

What’s on the menu?

If you’re heading to a friend’s house for the game, odds are others might bring wings, pizza, and chips and dip. Not particularly helpful if you’re trying to watch your weight. When you ask the host what you can bring, ask what others are bringing so you don’t double up. That way you’ll have an idea of what foods are going to be served.

Bring a healthier option so you (and others) can choose sensibly. It can be easy as cutting up some fruit, bringing a veggie platter, or preparing a green salad with dressing on the side.

While you’ll want to focus on the better options – like fruits and veggies – allow yourself to eat one food that’s not part of your weight loss menu. Plan what you’re going to choose ahead of time and stick to one serving. Ask a friend who will be at the gathering to keep you accountable.

Should I save calories for snacking?

While that might make sense, it’s smarter to eat something high in fiber and protein before tip-off. This will make you feel a little full and help you avoid eating large portions of potentially unhealthy food.

Can I drink?

You can — and should — drink plenty of water. You can “dress up” water by choosing sparkling water served with lemon slices.

If you drink alcohol, stick to one or two glasses of a low-calorie option, like wine or light beer. Pace yourself by mixing alcohol with plenty of ice and drinking a glass of water between beverages.  

What are healthy food options?

Not sure what to bring to your March Madness watch party? Try these tasty treats:

  • A baked potato bar with all the toppings—including broccoli, green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and low fat cheese.
  • Stovetop popcorn—hold the butter and salt.
  • Carrots (instead of pigs) in a blanket.
  • Parmesan asparagus fries (asparagus coated in parmesan and panko mix before baking).

What other actions can I take to watch what I eat?

Here are some further tips:

  • Sit away from the self-serve table.
  • Make yourself a small plate to exercise portion control.
  • Use the break at halftime to go for a walk. Ten minutes of moving increases your metabolism.
  • Politely refuse to take home leftovers. You don’t need more temptation at home.
  • Wear a winning attitude. It’s possible to stick to your healthy habits.

About TOPS®

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded in 1948, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information.

Today there are about 65,000 members, including men, women, and international members who join chapter meetings in-person or online, with thousands of chapters in all 50 states and across Canada. Online resources include, news and information from the health and inspirational community, meal planning ideas, workouts, chapter resources, and more.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable, starting at $49 per year in the U.S. and $59 annually in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. Join TOPS, visit, or call 800-932-8677 to learn more about TOPS and to find a local chapter.