7 Football Food Tips To Keep You Happy, Not Stuffed

tailgating grillFootball season is here. It means fun and excitement along with angst, wringing of the hands, a whole new spin on vocabulary, and tons of food and drinks.

It seems as though football has nine main food groups: beer, wings, pizza, chips and dip, barbecued ribs, burgers, chili, sausage (especially bratwurst), and pulled pork. It’s a calorie bonanza.

In a national survey, fans were asked if game day calories count.  46% said their diet goes out the window when they’re tailgating or watching their team play and 39% said calories count but they still indulge in a few favorites on game day.

10 Tips To Keep You Happy . . .

or at least your stomach and waistline happy.  In this instance, your favorite football team is responsible for your mental happiness (or anguish).

1. Be aware of what and how much you’re eating. Mindless munching is a calorie disaster.  You’re shoving hundreds of calories into your mouth and it’s probably not even registering that you’re eating.  Put a portion on a plate and eat it instead of the constant hand to mouth action off of a platter or open bowl. It’ll save you hundreds of calories.

2. Learn approximately how many calories are in a portion of your favorite football food so you can make intelligent choices.  That way you’re not denying yourself what you love, but if pulled pork has hundreds more calories than a grilled sausage and you love them both, would you choose one over the other?

3.  Save your calories for what you love and pass on the other stuff.  You don’t have to eat it just because it’s there and it’s traditional football food.  If you really don’t love guacamole why would you eat it?  Salsa has a lot fewer calories.

4.  Don’t be starving at game time (or for the pregame tailgate).  Have a healthy protein based snack (about 150 calories) before the game. Just don’t have a snack and then eat the same amount out of habit – then you’re just adding the snack calories to all of the others.

5.  Cut it down a little.  Can you have 4 or 5 wings instead of 6 or 7?  How about a slider instead of a burger, 2 pieces of pizza instead of 3, or ½ a grinder instead of a whole one?  Put only 1 or 2 toppings on your chili instead of sour cream, cheese, guacamole, and a never-ending supply of chips or nachos.

6. If you’re doing some shopping or cooking (or bringing food) for a tailgate or party, try making a slightly healthier version of your favorite food.

  • Fried chicken: Use crushed cornflakes for the breading and bake instead of frying
  • Nachos: Use low-fat cheese and salsa
  • Creamy dips: Use 2% yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Chips: Buy baked, not fried
  • Chili: Go beans only or use extra-lean ground beef or extra-lean ground turkey instead of ground chuck
  • Pizza:  Order thin crust instead of deep dish and stick with veggie toppings or plain cheese instead of pepperoni or meatball toppings

7.  Beer.  There can be a huge variation in calories between brands and types of beer.

On average:

  • 12 ounces of beer has 153 calories and 13.9 grams of alcohol
  • 12 ounces of lite beer has 103 calories and 11 grams of alcohol

Different types of beer and malt liquor can have very different amounts of alcohol content. Light beers can almost as much alcohol as regular beer – about 85% as much.   Put another way, on average:

  • Regular beer: 5% alcohol
  • Some light beers: 4.2% alcohol
  • Malt liquor:  7% alcohol

For an extensive list of the calories in many popular brands of beer, click HERE.

Want more tips — especially if you eat in dining halls of any kind?  Get my new book, now available on Amazon — 30 Ways to Survive Dining Hall and Dorm Room Food: Tips to Avoid the Freshman 15.

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