Punt Those Extra Calories
A fab post by one of my favorite dietitians!
By Rachel Berman, Director of Nutrition at CalorieCount.com
September is about new beginnings and no, I’m not talking about the start of the school year. The weather hasn’t yet changed but there’s a slight shift in the air from lazy days of summer to lazy Sundays in front of the television. That’s right folks, football season is upon us and with it comes its own brand of unhealthy fare to navigate – nachos, spinach and artichoke dip, Buffalo wings, pigs in a blanket, all types of grilled meat, and of course, adult beverages.
Whether you’re tailgating, watching the game at a bar, or with a group wherever, call an audible on the less than ideal food situation and make the healthiest choices you can with these tips:
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is saving up calories all day in anticipation of a football feast. That’s not to say you have to eat a large meal beforehand but as a rule of thumb, have a snack within 2-3 hours before the festivities. Some touchdown options are an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or a low-fat yogurt with an ounce of nuts. Or make your own healthy version of an app like nachos with baked chips, part-skim cheese, and marinara sauce, which can often help reduce the temptation later on.
Don’t be a Meathead!
Especially when tailgating, you’ll find fare similar to summer BBQs, such as hamburgers, hotdogs, and sausages. If you can choose the meat, go with 85 to 95% lean ground beef or lean ground turkey for a burger patty. Other great options would be skinless chicken breast or veggie burgers on the grill. Most of the time, unless you’re hosting, you aren’t going to BYOP (bring your own protein) – so what’s the best option of the three? I’d go for the hamburger to save on sodium and even more excess saturated fat you’ll get from the sausage. But skip the bun unless it’s whole wheat.
Slow the Game Down
When your eyes are glued to the TV, does your hand keep drifting over to that bowl of chips to grab another handful? Always keep one eye on what you’re eating and slooow it down. When you eat slowly and stay mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth, you’re more likely to keep tabs on your portions and not overdo it. It can help to only eat at designated times during the game and plate what you’re eating instead of dipping into the common bowl. Or if you’re tailgating, decide ahead of time what your move will be with regards to eating before or choosing concession foods. Be a team player and get support from a buddy to help you stick to that plan – you’re more likely to be successful.
Go Ahead, Have a Beer
What would an American football game be without a couple of cold ones? For supposed health benefits due to antioxidants, make it a dark one. To save on calories, choose light to save at least 50 calories for a 12 ounce beer. And no matter how your team is doing, just stick to that couple so that your motivation to eat healthy doesn’t get blitz-ed. (Go Giants!)