Five Easy Tips to Host a Healthy Tailgate - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on March 31, 2017

Five Easy Tips to Host a Healthy Tailgate

By: Courtney Meidenbauer, RD, CD

Tailgating is a great pastime to gather family and friends together to enjoy a great day of baseball. However, typical tailgating food does not always include the healthiest options. As you’re looking at the season line-up and packing a cooler full of food and beverages, keep these healthy tips in mind:

  1. Consider eating before leaving home. Having a meal or a light snack before heading to the stadium can take the edge off your desire to overindulge. Individuals tend to make poorer food choices when they are overly hungry. Examples of light snacks include a yogurt and apple, cottage cheese and fruit, or string cheese and crackers.
  2. Not all meats are created equal. Skinless meats are ideal for grilling, like boneless chicken breast or ground sirloin hamburger. Treat processed meats (like brats, Italian sausages and hot dogs) as occasional foods since the preservatives in processed meats are not good for our health. The lean chicken and lean red meat will provide the protein source to keep you fueled to the ninth inning!
  3. Enjoy your plate, then get moving. Create a plate for yourself, then try your best to stick to it. Constant grazing makes us forget how much we’ve eaten. Once you’ve enjoyed your plate, get moving! Play bean bag toss, ladder ball, or throw a baseball or football back and forth.
  4. Alternate your drinks. Hours of tailgating can include sugary or alcoholic beverages. Make sure your cooler is equally stocked with bottled water or sparkling water. Those who choose to consume alcoholic beverages during sports games should be mindful to hydrate in between and drink plenty of water. Remember, a typical regular beer is about 150 calories and about 100 calories for a light beer. A regular soda will also be about 150 calories per 12 ounces. Diet soda, although a low-calorie alternative, does have artificial sweeteners, so it should be consumed in moderation.
  5. Try some new, healthy options. Mix up what’s typically served when you tailgate by grilling asparagus or zucchini. Ditch the ranch veggie dip for some hummus instead. Try a new chip by picking up some tortilla chips made from beans for added protein and fiber. Assemble fruit kababs for an easy fruit serving. Packing the healthy options helps you stick to your healthier tailgating plan.

As always, reach out to your local registered dietitian for additional tips to follow a healthy and active lifestyle.

Source: World Health Organization - Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat


Courtney Meidenbauer is a clinical dietitian with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, part of Ascension, as well as a representative for Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (WAND).

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Five Easy Tips to Host a Healthy Tailgate