Fall has arrived, which means it is officially tailgating season. Regardless of your sport of choice, tailgating typically comes along with plenty of food to enjoy while waiting for the big game to begin, and let’s be honest, sometimes the food is more exciting than the game itself! With that in mind, here are a few practical ways to stay on track while enjoying the game, the company, AND the food!
Top 5 tips for Healthy Tailgating
1. Be Prepared
This means not showing up to the event ravenous and ready to eat anything in sight. Skipping meals to “save calories” later in the day rarely works as it often leads to overeating. Instead, aim to eat a well-balanced meal prior to the event to fire up your metabolism and keep you satisfied until game time.
2. BYOS: Bring Your Own Snacks!
The best way to control what you eat is to bring it yourself. There are numerous game day snacks that can be both crowdpleasing and healthy. Here are a few of my favorites:
• Veggies served with hummus, tahini or spicy guacamole
• Trail mix made with nuts of choice + unsweetened dried fruit
• Grilled turkey or chicken burgers on whole wheat bun with sliced avocado
• Edamame sprinkled with garlic and sea salt
• Caprese salad made with fresh basil, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and a balsamic olive oil dressing
• Baked cauliflower buffalo “wings”
• Hearty chili made with a variety of beans and veggies
• Lightly salted popcorn
• Strawberry Watermelon Granita
3. Stay Hydrated
Alcohol can be a popular tailgating beverage, and can certainly be enjoyed in moderation, but the calorie content can add up quickly. Something else to keep in mind — the effects of alcohol may increase hunger or lead to less healthy food choices. I always say, “The more you drink, the less you care!” Ha! Alcohol can also contribute to dehydration due to its diuretic effect, so make a goal to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed and stick to just 1 or 2 drinks. Light beers, wine spritzers, or mixed drinks like sodawater with splash of lime and vodka are good lower-calorie options.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindful eating involves taking time to slow down and eat with intention, being aware of what your body truly craves, and paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Try asking yourself questions to assess what your current hunger level is and what foods truly sound good to you. Then, choose those foods and eat until you are comfortable but not overly full. Enjoying conversation away from the food table can also help minimize mindless eating.
5. Stay Active
Don’t forget to have fun! Tailgating isn’t only about food, it’s also about socializing, relaxing, and — oh yeah — watching the game! Make a point to play games like bag toss, throw around a football, or go on a walk to get your body moving.
No matter what team you are rooting for, remember that healthful living and socializing can (and should!) absolutely coincide.