By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES
For many of us, fall means football season! From high school games on Friday night to Monday Night football, football usually means food and lots of it. Planning ahead is your best defense. Prepare to tackle your Game Day food challenges by reviewing this list of strategies… and you’ll be sure to score!
Keep your goal in sight. If you love watching football, you appreciate the hard work the athletes and coaches put into the game. Remind yourself of your personal game plan… to live a long and healthy life, which means making thoughtful choices about what you eat.
Feature a training table buffet. Pro athletes wouldn’t eat the way many of us do when we’re watching games or tailgate-ing, so why not treat ourselves more like the players? Create a spread that would make a sports nutritionist proud. Include lots of veggies, whole grains, fruits and lean meats. Here are some ideas to get you started:
-Roasted vegetables and kale chips
-Pumpkin or sweet potato soup
-Skewered grilled chicken breast strips
-Turkey sliders with avocado and tomato
-Hummus dip with whole wheat pita
-Apple wedges with Greek yogurt dip
Remember the water boy! Water is the most important nutrient for a player during a game. Be prepared with drinks you enjoy that have zero-calories or will fit in your calorie and carb allowance. Drinking beer? Light beer saves is usually about half the carbs (5 gm carb vs 10 gram carb for a 12 oz can) and the calories drop from about 150 to 100.
Record the games to skip the commercials. Did you know that the average televised NFL game has 20 commercial breaks and 100 ads? Most include a cue to eat or drink something and that can increase the temptation to overeat unhealthy foods. Reduce that urge by using the fast-forward button.
Workout while you watch. Watch the game while walking on a treadmill or spinning on your stationary bike. Even walking in place or doing chair exercises using resistance bands (or soup cans) to keep the muscles moving will help. At the very least, get out for a 15 minute walk during half-time.
Ask for help from your teammates. It helps to let your family and friends know you’re serious about your health. Let them know the ways they can be helpful, such as offering zero-calorie beverages or more low-carb snacks.
Call a time out if needed. Sure, there may be times when you might over do it on your brother in law’s famous spare ribs, the cheese dip or the football shaped brownies. Whatever it is… eat it slowly and enjoy it. Then plan for how you’ll do some extra exercise later that evening or the next day.
Touchdown! Just like every game, the unexpected may occur. There may be some set-backs, but know that with perseverance, you’ll keep your goal in mind, your teammates will support you, and good health will be your reward.