Healthy Tailgating Ideas

Healthy tailgate foodWhen you hear the words “tailgating” or “tailgate party” thoughts of an overabundance of food and drink leap to mind. Ribs covered in barbecue sauce, brats soaked in beer, and triple-stacked bacon cheeseburgers all washed down with regular beer are what most people expect to find served at a tailgate party. Sure, you’ll see a veggie tray or a salad every now and then but right next to those items is normally the big bottle of original Ranch dressing. It kind of zeroes out the positive and healthy effects of those food choices when it is drowned in salad dressing high in saturated fat. Believe it or not, you can still tailgate and have a great menu planned while still serving healthy tailgate party food.

…Ask yourself, “Would I serve this at home if I was trying to eat healthy?”. If the answer is no,do not bring it tailgating…

The first rule of healthy tailgating is common sense. Ask yourself, “Would I serve this at home if I was trying to eat healthily?” If the answer is no, then do not plan to bring it with you tailgating. Do not fall into the trap of bringing something that is not considered healthy for the other people tailgating. Let’s face it. If you bring that batch of double chocolate brownies because other people might like to have some, you know you will not be able to resist having one or eight yourselves. If the brownies or other unhealthy foods are not there to tempt you, how can you eat them? It makes it hard to eat something bad if it is not even there.

One of the easiest ways to not overeat while tailgating is to not eat at all. Calm down, Mahatma Gandhi. We’re not suggesting you go on a hunger strike or anything drastic like that. Rather than sitting around and snacking and drinking, play a tailgating game instead. It’s rather difficult to overeat if you are throwing around the football or playing Sholf or corn hole. By preoccupying yourself with a diversion like tailgating games, you will not be eating and thus not blowing your goal of healthy tailgating.

Another good tip for healthy tailgating is to drink plenty of water before you start eating. You would be surprised how drinking a large bottle of water can fill you up leaving less room to overindulge on fatty foods. Sure, you may have to make an extra run to the port-o-let from all the water you drank but then again it is better than loading up on all the snacks on the tailgating table.

A great way to stay healthy while tailgating is to volunteer to be the designated driver after the game or concert. By being the DD you have a built-in excuse for not drinking and can choose a diet soda or water instead of beer and cocktails. By being a designated driver you can remain healthy and keep yourself and your fellow tailgaters safe for the drive home. If tailgating is just not the same without a beer, this will sound obvious, but a light beer is a better choice than a regular one. Also, try to contain yourself when drinking. Overconsumption of alcohol encourages you to overeat thus killing your diet. There is a reason why the drive-thru line after the bars close is so long.

Okay, what about food? You have to eat right? These suggestions may sound obvious as well but you may not have thought about them before. When trying to host a healthy tailgate party, fat and sugar are enemies. If you love B-B-Q chicken, make sure to choose cuts that are skinless. The skin is where most of the fat is hiding so choose lean cuts. When choosing your barbecue sauces, read the labels. Some sauces have high sugar content. Avoid those sugary sauces and choose a smokey mesquite barbecue sauce with less sugar instead. Planning on serving hamburgers and hot dogs? Choose ground sirloin to make your burgers rather than regular ground beef. Sirloin has much less fat and tastes just as good. Also, choose low-fat hot dogs instead of regular hot dogs. Fish is always a healthy alternative to the regular tailgating menu. Try some grilled Salmon Steaks with lemon juice next time you tailgate.

…Carrots, celery, raw broccoli and raw mushrooms are much healthier for dipping than chips…

Snacks and appetizers can be the killer of a healthy tailgate party. Chips and dips are standard offerings while tailgating but there is a way to keep it healthy. Many of the chip makers have baked versions of their standard popular chips. Baked Lays or Baked Doritos are a much healthier choice than the regular fried versions. Also, salsa is much healthier for dipping than ranch dip or those onion soup dips made with regular sour cream. If you have to have those types of dips while tailgating, choose the light, reduced fat or nonfat sour cream and ranch dips for your dipping. An ever healthier way of tailgate snacking is ditching the chips altogether and offering a veggie tray instead. Carrots, celery, raw broccoli, and raw mushrooms are much healthier for dipping than chips.

The real key to a healthy tailgate party is self-control. If you want to tailgate but do not want to blow your diet, make a deal with yourself before hitting the parking lot. Tell yourself you will be in control and not be overtaken by the thought of overeating or over-drinking. Limit yourself to just one or two light beers. When it is time to eat, survey everything that is available and choose to eat the healthier foods. Just grabbing the first thing available is not a wise choice. Also, food should not be the main focus of any tailgate party. Friendship and camaraderie before a game or concert are what tailgating is all about. By following these simple guidelines you are on your way to not just tailgating, but tailgating healthy.