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Six tips for healthy tailgating food and fun

Six tips for healthy tailgating food and fun

Whether you’re staying in town for the Saints or the Green Wave, or you’re heading up the road to catch the Tigers or the Jaguars, you don’t have to skip out on tailgating if you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier. These tips for healthy tailgating will help you enjoy the game with none of the guilt.

1. Don’t skip breakfast.

In your rush to get out the door and down to the tailgating lots, it’s too easy to forget breakfast (or, for night games, even lunch). But fueling your body before the fun can help you eat healthier the rest of the day. Try a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast, like whole grain toast with almond butter, or hard-boiled eggs and an apple with peanut butter.

2. Grill light and lean.

Nothing says the tailgate’s on like firing up the grill. But you don’t have to grill fatty red or processed meats to get all the flavor of popular tailgate foods, such as burgers and hot dogs. Swap the ground beef for heart-healthy turkey or bison burgers, or try vegan meat alternatives, like soy chorizo sausages. Another healthy option is grilling skewers with chicken and vegetables, such as onions and bell peppers.

Maybe grilling’s not part of your game plan. If you prefer to bring food prepared at home, an air fryer can be your new go-to. Buffalo wings turn out crispy and moist in the air fryer. Make a dip for your chicken wings with ranch seasoning and Greek yogurt instead of bottled dressing for more protein and less fat. And if chili’s more your thing, go for a chicken or turkey chili recipe — and don’t forget the hot sauce!

3. Veg it up.

You don’t have to forgo finger foods and savory side dishes at your tailgate. It’s easy to incorporate a range of vegetables into your pregame plan. Roll out a spread with a mix of high-fiber, low-sodium dips, such as:

  • Black bean salsa
  • Buffalo cauliflower dip
  • Guacamole (full of unsaturated, healthy fats)
  • Hummus
  • Spinach dip (using yogurt instead of mayonnaise)

Instead of chips (high in fat and sodium), slice carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, and other veggies for dipping. You could also try whole wheat or gluten-free pita wedges. Use an air fryer to serve fresh sweet potato chips with none of the fat of the bagged variety.

4. Go easy on the alcohol.

You’re not alone if your tailgating plans involve cold beer or spiked lemonade. Still, alcoholic beverages are often full of calories — and too many drinks can have serious consequences. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 recommends limiting alcohol intake to one daily drink for women and two for men. Stock the cooler with beer, seltzers or cocktails low in calories, sugar, and alcohol.

5. Stay hydrated.

Drinking plenty of water on game days is crucial for multiple reasons. Hydration staves off hunger, making you feel full. Water also helps with digestion, especially if you’re eating heavy foods. And if you’re drinking alcohol, alternating each drink with a glass of water is a great way to make sure you don’t drink too much (and avoid a hangover the next day).

6. Keep moving.

You may not be able to walk to the tailgate with all your food and gear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get exercise once you’re there. Take a break from snacking to stroll around and mingle with your fellow fans. If space allows it, toss a Frisbee or a football around with friends for some mild cardiac activity before the hike to your seats.

Need more tips on healthy eating or managing your weight? LCMC Health providers can help. Learn more about our weight loss services today.