Don’t Let Tailgating Sabotage Your Healthy Diet

With moderation, some smart substitutions, and more time spent on the move, you can enjoy seasonal get-togethers without gaining weight.

Football teams return to the gridiron as fall begins. Having men in pads and helmets back on the field means it’s time to dust off the canopy tent, inspect the portable grill and take a reconnaissance trip to the stadium parking lot. Tailgating season is back.

You relish the camaraderie, the fresh air, and, yes, the food of tailgating, but you also know the grills brimming with red meat, coolers full of calorie-laden beverages, and mile-high cookie and brownie plates could set the stage for a health nightmare.

A Winning Strategy

Instead of being a tailgate no-show or avoiding traditional fare altogether, try these tips to enjoy guilt-free game-day gatherings:

  • Build a better-for-you burger. Choose lean ground turkey or beef. Use whole-wheat buns. Try making sliders or cutting a full-size burger in half for portion control.
  • Choose condiments and seasonings wisely. Use salt and sauces sparingly. Dress burgers with lettuce, tomato, and onions instead of cheese and mayo. 
  • Graze well. Your tendency to snack takes over during a tailgate. Bring some healthful options with you, such as a vegetable tray with hummus or a platter of sliced fruit.
  • Keep your taste buds on their toes. Forget sodium-rich hot dogs and bratwursts. Instead, try chicken kebabs with bell peppers and onions, salmon burgers, or grilled chicken wraps.
  • Sip and savor. If you drink alcohol or soda, limit yourself to no more than two beverages and enjoy them slowly. You also can’t go wrong with the water, especially with lemon or lime to add flavor.
  • Stand up for fun. Resist the temptation to eat and then plant yourself in front of the TV to watch multiple games. Instead, burn calories by tossing the pigskin with your children, playing cornhole with friends, taking a walk to check out the scene at other tents, or simply standing and talking with a group of fellow fans. Just don’t spend too much time sitting.

Tailgating has so many appealing aspects. It’s an opportunity to get out of the house, share your passion for your team with other equally ardent fans and make lasting memories. In short, it’s about much more than food. Think of the tailgate spread as just a small part of a great event.

And Lift and Cheer and Lift and Cheer

You can’t get out to the game every Saturday or Sunday, so why not get in a workout while watching the action on TV? Try some of these activities to keep those hours in the living room from going to waste:

  • Celebrate successful kicks by performing 10 overhead dumbbell lifts for every field goal or extra point.
  • Devise your own touchdown dance and do it every time your team makes a first down.
  • Every time your team scores, perform the same number of push-ups or sit-ups as the number of points on the board.
  • Hop on the treadmill and see how many miles you can walk or jog in a quarter.
  • Spend each commercial break performing leg extensions (bringing your legs into a straight position while sitting on the edge of a chair) with ankle weights.

Feel Better Faster

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