Perhaps it was those extra beers you drank during the post-game festivities.
Or maybe it was those half-dozen chicken wings you gnawed on during crunch time in the fourth quarter.
Or it could have been all those salty snacks you munched on during the entire four-hour football game.
Whatever the cause, it’s now Monday morning and your head is pounding from a hangover.
Or your stomach is doing somersaults from all that food you ate.
There is no way you can make it into work.
If you call in sick this Monday, you won’t be alone.
A 2016 Workforce Institute report estimated that 16 million Americans miss work the day after the Super Bowl, both from planned days off and sick days.
That’s in addition to the 7 million employees who will come in late.
Many of these absences will be due to simple overindulgence during Super Bowl festivities.
“The key operative here is moderation, which is not synonymous with this particular Sunday,” Dr. Anthony A. Starpoli, a gastroenterologist, and associate director of esophageal endotherapy at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline.
There are a lot of ways people sabotage their health while enjoying themselves during the Super Bowl.
Number one on the list is alcohol consumption.
Nutrition experts told Healthline there are several ways people abuse this privilege.
The most obvious is the amount. Drinking throughout the Super Bowl is a sure path to Hangover Highway.
Another is downing alcoholic drinks before you eat. Taking in liquor on an empty stomach allows alcohol to course even more quickly into your bloodstream.
- too much alcohol
- drinking alcohol on an empty stomach
- eating too much
- eating too much food you aren’t used to
- eating and drinking late in the evening
Katie Ferraro, a registered dietitian, and assistant clinical professor at the University of San Diego and the University of California, San Francisco, says the majority of sick calls on Monday will be from drinking too much.
“You don’t want to focus on the wrong thing,” she told Healthline. “In the end, it’s probably the alcohol that is going to do you in.”
That’s not to say food consumption won’t be a problem.
Ferraro says there is not only a lot of food at Super Bowl parties, there’s also a lot of unhealthy snacks that are high in sodium, fat, and calories.
“The typical Super Bowl cuisine isn’t focused on health,” she said.
Susan Weiner, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, says there are foods served at Super Bowl parties that people don’t normally consume.
“I think quantity is really the problem, but it’s especially true with foods you don’t typically eat,” she told Healthline.
And it’s not just upset stomachs that are the result.
Starpoli said people can also have acid reflux-related problems. The most common is heartburn.
He said this is a particularly serious problem for people prone to gastroesophagael reflux disease (GERD), but it can affect anybody who is overindulging.
“It can create a perfect storm,” he said. “People aren’t used to consuming these types of things in such a short period of time.”
Time is also a factor.
Ferraro points out that the Super Bowl is longer than most regular season football games, giving people more opportunity to abuse their bodies.
In addition to the game, the post-game celebration doesn’t end until around 11 p.m. EST. Even on the West Coast, that’s 8 p.m.
In either case, it doesn’t give people a lot of time to settle down before they go to bed and then wake up the next morning to go to work.
Super Sunday advice
So, how do you avoid Super Sick Monday?
Let’s start with the alcohol.
Ferraro recommends beginning your party with a glass or two of water before you take that first sip of liquor.
After that, drink some water in between each of your alcoholic beverages.
“Staying hydrated is incredibly important,” he said.
As for the food, Weiner suggests having some alternative dishes to the bacon-cheese snacks and beefy sandwiches.
- Start with water.
- Stay hydrated.
- Have healthy alternative dishes.
- Don’t stand next to the food table.
- Stop eating and drinking when it gets late.
Perhaps one or two party-goers can be assigned to bring vegetable and fruit dishes.
“At least give yourself a fighting chance,” she said.
Weiner also suggests not standing next to the food table while you watch the game or talk with other guests.
Put some food on a napkin or plate and walk to the other side of the room.
“If you’re standing next to it, you’re more likely to eat it,” she said.
In addition, stop eating and drinking as the end of the game draws near. That’ll provide you with a better chance of getting adequate rest.
There are also things you can do on Monday to help yourself.
First, make sure you toss out any leftover food from the party. If you don’t, you’re likely to snack on those unhealthy items.
Second, drink a lot of water on Monday. It’ll help re-hydrate you.
And do your regular exercise for that day.
“Super Bowl Sunday can set up some not-so-good habits for the next few days,” Weiner said.