In the south, tailgating may mean waking up to the smell of buttery biscuits and drinking fizzy mimosas. Come lunchtime you may munch on hot dogs, cheesy dips and sip cold beer. You may find yourself finishing the night off at a local burger joint to catch the scores on the other games. A day of tailgating should be fun and full of yummy food, but for those trying to live a healthier lifestyle, it does not have to demolish all of your goals.
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Here are 3 tips to make it through this marathon of a day while making a few healthy choices:
Tip #1 Game Day Morning or Night Before
Fuel up with a healthy breakfast full of protein before the big day so you will stay full and energized longer. If you find yourself staring at a breakfast buffet at the tailgate, just steer clear of all the sugary pastries. Fresh fruit and whole wheat breads are a safer start.
Pack your own cooler. If you know that chips and queso, po’boys and brownies are on the tailgating menu, don’t be afraid to bring a turkey burger, some watermelon or whatever nutritious item you like. Bring your own healthy covered dish, veggie tray, or fruit salad. That way you can share your healthy options with friends and you can bank on the fact that you have yourself covered.
Tip #2 During the Big Game
Many people aim to just “grab something at the game,” and they later find themselves deep in the cheesy nachos and fries come halftime. Try to eat before entering the game and if your stadium allows it, bring a baggie of almonds or piece of fruit inside.
If you are ravenous, drink tons of water first. Then consider buying a burger with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and hold the bun!
Tip #3 Post-Game
After the game, it’s a mad rush of the crowds trying to get back to the tailgate or sports bar. That grill will be fired up again and the celebratory drinks will be shared. Back at the tailgate, grab a water bottle out of the cooler before a beer. After such a long day of standing and cheering, you may realize that your hunger was actually thirst. Once you measure your true hunger after hydrating, bust into that veggie tray you brought, rather than popping open the Doritos. Ask the master griller to throw on your turkey burger. If you are craving dessert, Dr. Mehmet Oz has always said to have oatmeal raisin cookies over chocolate chip cookies.
If you plan to hit up a local bar and grille to grab some grub, hydrate before your first drink or ordering your meal. Next, try having your alcoholic beverage before you order a meal, you may be surprised that the carbs in the alcohol curb your hunger for some time. If you are ready to dive head first into dinner, stay far, far away from the fried appetizers. Order your wings “naked,” not fried. Ask the server for some grilled chicken or fish.
As for drinks, you also may be surprised how satisfying a cocktail of vodka, water, lemon and lime can be after standing in the southern sun all day. Don’t forget to drink one glass of water between each cocktail!
Overall, do not forget to enjoy yourself. If you know all your favorite foods will be served up on game-day, eat smart that week knowing you may want to splurge. Remember it’s not a splurge DAY, it’s a splurge MEAL. Happy tailgating!
Stay tuned for a follow-up post on healthy recipes you can bring to your next tailgate.
About the Blogger:
Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”
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