The hint of fall is in the air, and hopefully soon the temperature will remember it’s October and not mid-summer. Every weekend is now packed with friends gathering around a TV screen or an actual tailgate to celebrate their favorite team. Often the tailgate spread seems to be the gateway into those pesky extra winter pounds that we Americans are so famous for. But take heart! With some planning, healthy options can be a tasty and nutritious way to celebrate your favorite team.
Tailgate Food at a Glance
Hot dogs, brats, burgers, chips, cheesy dips, savory dips, fruit dips (did I mention the dips?), cookies, brownies, football shaped cakes — these are just a few of the food items you might find at any spread. Heavy on the snack-food side of eating, low on the nutrient dense foods, it’s often quite easy to consume excess calories and end the day feeling stuffed.
Not to mention tailgaters also have a tendency to drink excess calories. Most 12-ounce beers consumed at sporting events range from 95 calories to 350 calories each! This is a toughie to consider when you’re at a hot all day outdoor event where there’s constant access to a cooler.
Even the healthiest food choices can be sabotaged by the bottle, especially as alcohol can also cause someone with the most resolute will power to slack on the nutrition end of things. Pretty soon that queso dip on top of those loaded nachos looks a lot more appealing than the spinach wrap you had been planning to eat.
What To Do
- Eat a good breakfast. Make sure you’ve got complex carbs, protein, and healthy fat! Try these overnight oats for a great healthy start.
- Don’t show up empty handed. If you’re asked to bring something, make sure it’s a food that’s high on flavor and mild on calories. Think lean protein, greens and healthy fats. See below. Here are two options that are both tasty and healthy:
- Drink in moderation. Dehydration can happen quickly when it’s hot outside. Start the day with your favorite calorie free sparkling water. When you do indulge in an alcoholic beverage, sip slowly. Try alternating bottled water in between drinks.
- Don’t hover! Fix your plate and then move on to avoid constant snacking. Don’t eat out of the bag. Put foods on your plate and then walk away.
- Consider the Plate Method when making your plate. Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, then a quarter with starchy foods and a quarter with lean protein.