Healthy Lifestyle

7 Ideas for a Healthier Tailgating Party This Football Season

It’s that time of year again when we get together with friends and family to cheer on our favorite football teams.

And what would football season be without tailgating parties?

Whether at home or the stadium, many will agree that a tailgate is all about the food and drinks. But standard party fare can be loaded with calories, making it easy to overindulge and sabotage our best-laid plans to eat healthier.

That doesn’t have to be the case. Try these simple food swaps and tips to make your party healthier.

5 easy swaps for better results

Ditch the chips: Hold the potato, tortilla or corn chips and instead serve pretzels, popcorn and whole-grain crackers. These options are a great source of fiber (to keep you feeling fuller) and are lower in fat and calories.

Go lean with your meats: Instead of bratwurst and hotdogs, opt for lean protein like chicken, lean ground beef and pork. You can ratchet up the flavor by seasoning meat with spices and marinades.

Give fruit a chance: Substitute a fruit tray loaded with grapes, berries, melon and apples for the usual cookies, cupcakes and other sweet treats. Fruit can add variety and color to the snack table while satisfying a sweet tooth.

Remember the veggies: Vegetable trays filled with carrots, mini peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes are extra nutritious and a welcome addition to those watching calories on game day.

Dip smarter: For dipping, try hummus instead of higher calorie cheese or ranch dips. Hummus has extra protein and is satisfying when paired with veggies.

Try these 2 things at your next tailgate

Don’t drink your calories: Drink water or other unsweetened beverages instead of higher calorie mixed drinks and beers. If you do drink alcohol, sub in water for every other drink. Also, try keeping a bottle of water in your hand to prevent you from continually snacking.

Be mindful: Remember to pay attention to serving sizes when filling up your plate. Using a smaller plate can help you reduce portion sizes and still let you enjoy your favorite foods without feeling deprived.

Game on

So go ahead and enjoy the game, the company and the food that goes along with a tailgating party. You can still have a great time while making small, healthy changes.

Contact a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Methodist Center for Diabetes and Nutritional Health to learn more about how a proper diet can help you manage and improve your health.

About the Author

Martha Nepper, PhD, RDN, LMNT, CDE, is passionate about healthy eating and nutrition. Her favorite part of being a registered dietitian nutritionist is seeing someone become healthier through better nutrition and adding more activity in their lives.

See more articles from Martha Nepper, PhD, RDN, LMNT, CDE
Photo of Martha Nepper, PhD, RDN, LMNT, CDE