A Guide to Healthy Game Time Eating

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 healthy buffet. Pro athletes wouldn’t eat the way many of us do when we’re watching games or tailgating, 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 proteins. 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 & tomato
  • Hummus dip with whole wheat pita
  • Tabbouleh salad
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Apple wedges with Greek yogurt dip or peanut butter
  • Frozen grapes
  • Salty nuts

Remember the water! Water is the most important nutrient for a player during a game. Be prepared with drinks you enjoy that have no sugar, or ones that will fit in your calorie and carb allowance. Drinking beer? Light beer saves usually about half the carbs, and the calories drop from about 150 to 100.

Record games so you can skip 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.

Move while you watch. Watch the game while walking in place or doing some light stretching. Even doing chair exercises using resistance bands or lifting some cans of soup (unopen!) 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-sugar beverages or some more health-focused snacks.

Call a timeout if needed. Your brother in law’s famous spare ribs, creamy dip, or football shaped brownies… They’re all delicious, but know that you don’t have to eat it all at one time. Spread it throughout the day, or even take some home to try the next day. Whatever it is, eat it slowly and enjoy it.

Touchdown! Just like every game, there may be some setbacks that can occur, especially at events where tons of food is around – and that’s okay. Know that with perseverance, you’ll keep your goal in mind, your teammates will support you, and good health will be your reward.

The medical information on Diabetes – What To Know’s website is provided as an information resource only. The content is not in any way intended to be nor should you rely on it as a substitute for professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, advice and treatment.

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