It’s football season! Time to tailgate – and eat healthy

Score a touchdown this fall by serving up great-tasting healthy food at your next tailgate.  Typically foods associated with tailgating are loaded with fat, sugar and calories.  By the time you’ve eaten your way through hamburgers, brats, buffalo wings, chips and dip, cookies, and other desserts all washed down with high calorie alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, it’s not uncommon to have already consumed more than 1,200 calories before you’ve even entered the stadium.  And that’s not counting the calories you add on from foods and beverages sold at the stadium.  If you’re trying to watch your weight or stay on track with eating healthy it won’t be easy. For anyone who has season tickets to football games and loves to tailgate, this can set you up to get blindsided by fumbling on your diet.

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The best way to tackle this is with a winning game plan. Here are some ideas to still enjoy tailgating but with food that is more health-conscious friendly and sure to be a crowd pleaser:

·         Substitute high fat meats for leaner cuts.  Use at least 93% lean ground beef or turkey patties on whole wheat buns.  Grilled marinated steak, chicken breast, bison or even venison are excellent alternatives.

·         Kabobs with lean meat like steak, chicken or salmon mixed with a variety of veggies will score well at a tailgate.  Use skinless chicken breasts and lean cuts of beef such as sirloin, t-bone or flank steak to save on calories and fat.

·         Sliders are a great way to kick off the season without packing on the pounds. 

·         A loaded veggie tray with healthy dips and crackers will get your guests cheering.

·         Use baked, tortilla or pita chips with homemade salsa instead of high-fat dips.

·         As the season cools down forcing people to huddle, consider a healthy chili or stew to keep everyone warm.  Use nutritious toppings like chopped green onions, fresh tomatoes or Greek yogurt.

·         Fruits trays are always a winner.  Use healthy fruit dips to toss in some variety.  This dip can also be used with graham crackers.

·         Whole wheat crackers, triscuits or wheat thins with cubes of cheese are good to munch on.

·         Toss vegetable salads with low-fat cheese, low-fat dressings, and using whole-wheat pasta to tackle higher fat versions made with mayo or high-fat dressings.

·         Throw in unbuttered popcorn for a crunchy, light snack

·         Keep beverages low-calorie – provide water with lemon or lime slices for flavor, light beer, diet soft drinks or other non-to-low-calorie beverages.

·         If staring at all that food makes it hard to resist, call a timeout by facing away from the food table and keeping your distance.

·         Even at a tailgate party, you can steal in some exercise.  Throw a football with someone or simply walk around enjoying the game day atmosphere.  Many fans arrive hours before kickoff – for every 30 minutes of sitting down, get up and walk for 10-15 minutes. 

This football season, cheer on your favorite team while making it a snap to tailgate and still eat healthy.


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ABOUT CHERYL MUSSATTO

REGISTERED DIETITIAN

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian and an adjunct professor at Allen Community College, Burlingame, Kansas and Butler County Community College, Council Grove, Kansas; she teaches Basic Nutrition and Therapeutic Nutrition.  She is also a certified health and wellness coach, and a clinical dietitian for the Cotton O’Neil Medical Clinic in Osage City, Kansas where she does individualized nutrition counseling.  She writes Eat Well to Be well, a column about health and nutrition forwww.osagecountyonline.com  and is a blog contributor for Dr. David B. Samadi at www.samadimd.com.  Contact her at eatwell2bewellrd@gmail.com, visit her website www.eatwell2bewellrd.com, or like “eat well 2 be well” on Facebook.