Each week, before teams face off on the gridiron, fans meet to stuff their faces in the parking lot. According to the American Dietetic Association, the average football fan tailgates five times each season, even as much as 10 times. Most tailgating spreads are filled with tasty and tempting high-fat and high-calorie offerings, and for every 3,500 calories consumed—which is surprisingly easy to do—you can expect to gain one pound. It’s estimated that by season’s end, an average foam finger-waving fan tallies 36,000 calories (that potentially becomes 10 extra pounds) from these events.
Check out the infographic below for more info on the final score when it comes to tailgating.
But tailgating doesn’t automatically mean dropping the ball on your diet or eating plan. Whether you’re putting together a parking lot spread or simply enjoying one, there are several pre-game picnic plays you can call to help make game day a happy and healthy one.
How to Tackle Frieds and ‘Offsides’ Side Dishes
Having a delicious and nutritious pre-game experience is easier if you’re responsible for coming up with the menu. Consider these ideas:
- Tailgate staples like chicken wings or french fries don’t have to be off limits. Just bake them instead of frying them.
- Roll up some lean meats and some low-fat cheeses. Serve them with some whole-grain breads and crackers.
- Cook up a hot crockpot of turkey chili or some vegetable soup with rice. Your friends will thank you. (You know football season can get cold, right?)
- If salty snacks are a must, opt for low-fat options like WonderSlim pea protein chips, pretzels, or popcorn.
- Few things are easier (and healthier) than a veggie tray. Serve it with some low-fat dip and/or salsa.
- For any recipes that you would normally make that include mayonnaise, dips or sour cream, substitute greek yogurt. Make full-fat recipes healthier by using low-fat milk or cheese.
- Two words: Fruit kabobs.
Eating Healthy on the Road
You can’t control what someone else brings on game day, but you can control what you indulge in. Employ the following defensive strategy when visiting someone else’s tailgating turf:
- No matter your healthy intentions, a game day spread can be irresistible. Before game day even rolls around, cut back a little on your normal eating throughout the week. Then, you can splurge a little before kickoff.
- That morning, before even leaving the house, eat a protein- and fiber-rich snack like granola, cereal, or yogurt so you’re not starving when pull into the parking lot. WonderSlim’s protein + fiber bars are great to get both all-in-one.
- Grab a bottle of water, too. You’ll have one less hand to carry food, and water will quench your thirst better than unhealthy, calorie-filled sugary drinks or alcohol.
- Before diving into the buffet, scan the entire spread. Find the healthiest options. (Go for fruits, veggies, and lean meats.) Then, limit yourself to a napkin or the smallest possible plate available.
- Once you’ve selected your food, walk away from the table and eat there. If you standing over the spread while you eat, chances are, you’ll eat too much.
- Don’t just stand during the whole outing. Move around and burn some calories. Throw a football or frisbee with your buddies. Take a stroll around and mingle with other tailgaters. Tailgating doesn’t have to be all about eating.
WonderSlim offers a wide variety of healthy, tailgate-ready snacks and foods. Pre-game before the tailgate with a filling protein shake, or add some healthier snack options to your next game day spread.
Sources: webmd.com, diabetes.org, eatright.org, choosemyplate.gov