We are in full football swing with college football going for a couple of weeks now and the pros just getting started last week. With the pigskin flying and helmets crashing comes parties, BBQs, and informal get-togethers for many of us. How can you make it through the season without putting on pounds? Here are a few tips on making some better choices while watching your favorite teams go at it.
Tip #1 BYOW – Bring your own water? Let’s face it, at football gatherings the beverage of choice is beer, and maybe soda for designated drivers and those that don’t drink alcohol. Having a few of either isn’t the best thing, but if you keep it to just a few then you won’t completely sabotage your diet. Bring some bottled water or bring your own filtered water. Alternate every other beverage with water. This will spare you calories, save you money, and keep you from getting wasted. Win, win, and win.
Tip #2 Better choices on traditional snacks – You don’t have to completely give up on traditional tailgate and BBQ fare – just make some slight changes.
Chips – Choose chips that are baked or kettle-cooked and free from hydrogenated oils. Avoid the ultra-processed chips and snacks with nasty oils, MSG, artificial coloring, and other junk. Keep the chip eating at a moderate level anyway, but a few from the less-processed variety once in a while won’t kill you.
Salsa – Choose natural varieties of salsa and watch for added sugar. Better yet, make your own with fresh organic produce from your local grocer or farmer’s market.
Guacamole – I forgot the exact number, but Americans eat something like a gazillion pounds of avocados each football season. These healthy fatty little fruits made into a dip make for a great snack; just don’t throw any unhealthy accessories in the mix. Avocado, lemon or lime juice, a little sea salt, cilantro, and done.
Other chip dips – Another great one to make on your own. More and more people are trading plain yogurt for sour cream for an unnoticeable pre-game substitution on their favorite dips.
Nuts – Nuts are a great snack to have around, but again can have added junk. Choose natural, raw nuts and mix it up. A few peanuts are okay, but throw in some almonds, walnuts, and macadamias too.
Tip #3 Avoid or limit some traditional foods
Fried takeout food – Often fried in trans fat, loaded with salt, and a ridiculous amount of calories – these items are best to be avoided.
Hot dogs and other processed meats – These are often full of preservatives and are heavily processed. Choose uncured varieties of deli meat or sausages without nitrates for you and your guests.
Pizza – Another convenient takeout food loaded with a bunch of extra ingredients you don’t need in your diet. A little won’t kill you, but 4 slices of a greasy pie loaded with sodium, high glycemic carbs, and a variety of processed meats will not help your diet efforts at all.
Store-bought salads – Potato salad and macaroni salad may be tasty and convenient, but also are swimming in mayonnaise.
Tip #4 Bring in new snacks and dishes – Hey, 20 years ago you might have received some strange looks showing up to a football party with hummus and baked pita chips, but times they are a changing! Many people appreciate healthy alternatives to traditional junk food. So be a little different and bring a veggie tray, some humus, or a quinoa salad to lighten up the party.
Do you have any other ideas for healthy game day dishes? Let us know with a comment below.