Football season is back! With all the excitement of football games and heated rivalries comes big tailgates to gather with family and friends. While this can be something to look forward to each weekend, it can also bring feelings of stress or anxiety towards the typical food options available. If you are trying to lose weight or just follow a healthier diet in general, read below for some small changes you can make to have both a fun and healthy tailgate season!
Use 100% whole grains
Make the switch from white buns, crackers and noodles to hearty, whole grains for your next tailgate! Processed foods are altered to remove most of the fiber and other nutrients that are still present in whole grain products. Choosing whole grains can help you feel full for longer and won’t make your blood sugar rise as quickly as processed grains do. Look for the yellow whole grain stamp on products at the store to use with your hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, dips and pasta salads!
Don’t skip meals
While this may seem like a good option so you have room for more food later in the day, skipping meals often works the opposite way you want it to. Skipping breakfast in preparation for the day ahead will make you more hungry than normal and more likely to overeat. Instead, have a filling breakfast with whole grains and protein so you aren’t overly hungry by the time the tailgate starts and you have the energy to make healthy choices for yourself. Try some of the options below for a quick meal before you leave the house or on your way to the game!
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter and bananas
- Apple slices with almond butter
- Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with berries and granola
Put food on a plate instead of snacking out of the bowl
It’s easy to get carried away when socializing with friends and not realize how much you have eaten. Grab a small plate and fill it with a few of your favorite snacks so you can enjoy the fun while also being aware of your portions.
Fill half your plate with plants
There are so many options for plant based foods to add to your tailgate menu. Create your own fresh fruit or veggie tray (or buy a premade one at the store!) to go with your favorite dip instead of chips. Slice up some tomatoes, onions, lettuce or other vegetables to top your burgers and hot dogs with. You can also add beans to your game day chili recipe for extra fiber and protein!
Drinks count as calories too
We often forget that what we drink can add up to have the same, if not more, calories than what we eat. Sugar sweetened beverages don’t make you feel full the same way food does, so you are more likely to eat more and go above your calorie needs. Alcohol is high in calories and can impair your ability to make healthy decisions. Choose your drinks wisely and make substitutions when you can with zero sugar beverages and lower calorie seltzers.
Bring your own healthier snacks
Eating healthy at a tailgate can be challenging, especially when there are not many options to choose from. Instead of hoping there are healthy choices at your tailgate, bring your own! Bring some whole grain buns, a veggie tray or your favorite zero sugar beverage to share. You can use this as an opportunity to educate your friends and family about how they can make their own healthier choices too!