by Cassie Story, RD
As the crisp autumn breeze sets in and the leaves start to change from emerald green to vibrant crimson hues, these signs are a reminder that football season is upon us! For many, this beloved time of year is not just about touchdowns and cheering for our favorite teams but also about the time-honored tradition of tailgating and spending time with friends and family.
Whether you’re gathering with friends in stadium parking lots or hosting a watch party at home, tailgating offers camaraderie, celebration, and, of course, delicious food. This football season, let’s elevate our tailgating game with fun new traditions and a selection of tasty and nutritious treats that will give you energy and keep the spirit of the game alive.
Tailgating can add a special touch to your game day experience and create lasting memories with friends and family. Whether you’re a seasoned tailgater or a newbie, here are some tips to help you build tailgating traditions and make each game day a unique and memorable event.
While tailgating, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game, cheering with fellow fans and eating yummy foods. However, practicing mindful eating can help you savor the experience even more. Mindful eating is about being present and fully engaged with the food you’re consuming. Here are some tips for incorporating mindful eating into your tailgating adventure:
Tailgating doesn’t have to be all about unhealthy, high-fat foods and sugary snacks. With a bit of planning, you can create a delicious and nutritious spread that everyone will enjoy. Follow these three easy steps to create a wholesome and satisfying tailgating menu that keeps both your taste buds and your well-being in mind.
Step 1: Choose Lean Protein Options
Start your tailgating menu by selecting one or two lean protein options that will serve as the centerpiece of your meal. Grilled chicken, lean beef, turkey burgers, and even plant-based protein alternatives like black bean burgers or grilled tofu are excellent choices. Marinate or season your protein with flavorful herbs and spices to enhance its taste and appeal. Lean proteins provide essential nutrients and keep you fuller for longer, which can help you avoid snacking on unhealthy foods later on. See our ‘healthified’ Chicago Ribeye Sandwich!
Step 2: Mix in Healthy Sides
Complement your lean protein with a variety of nutrient-packed side dishes (see our 10 Healthy Tailgating Snack Ideas). Go for whole grains like quinoa or brown rice, which offer fiber and sustained energy. Create colorful salads using fresh, seasonal vegetables and leafy greens. Try a medley of grilled or roasted vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers and asparagus. Incorporate legumes like chickpeas or black beans for added protein and fiber. These sides not only provide essential vitamins and minerals but also add vibrant flavors and textures to your tailgating experience.
Step 3: Hydrate with Refreshing Beverages
Stay hydrated during your tailgating festivities by offering a selection of refreshing and low-calorie beverages. Infused water with slices of citrus fruits, berries or herbs can provide a burst of flavor without added sugars. Unsweetened iced tea, both herbal and green, is another excellent choice. If you’re looking for a fizzy option, choose sparkling water and add a splash of 100% fruit juice for a hint of sweetness. By keeping your beverage choices hydrating and calorie-conscious, you’ll ensure everyone stays refreshed and ready to cheer on their team.
Incorporating healthier choices into your tailgating traditions doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the fun and excitement that come with game day celebrations. By following the tips in this article, you can create new and enjoyable traditions for tailgating that support your health goals. Enjoy your meals mindfully, savor the flavors of wholesome dishes, and find creative ways to make each tailgating event unique and memorable. This way, you can experience all the excitement game day has to offer while looking after your well-being. Cheers to a season of lively celebrations and healthier tailgating!
About the Author:
Cassie I. Story is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with 19 years of experience in treating metabolic and bariatric surgery and medical weight-loss patients. Currently, she holds the position of Director of Nutrition for Bariatric Advantage, serves as a Peer Reviewer for Obesity Surgery, and remains active within the Obesity Action Coalition. A national speaker and published author, Cassie enjoys spending time hiking and creating new recipes in the kitchen!
by Kelli Richardson, RD You’ve probably heard the generic advice before: Eat your fruits and veggies. Limit…Read Article