Tips for Terrific Tailgating
Enjoy the football festivities without fear of fat.
By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
Cool autumn weekends bring blankets, blue jeans, and spirited football games. At colleges and universities across the country, game day has become a ritual of sophisticated food and festivity. The perfect formula for a fun-filled day involves toting along coolers, barbecue grills, and baskets of food, then serving up a feast from the trunk of your vehicle. Oh, yeah -- there's also the football game!
My first tailgating experience was a few years ago, when my son was a freshman at the University of Georgia. I was amazed at the sea of red and black in the enormous Sanford stadium. But even more remarkable than the crazed fans were the portable feasts that occupied nearly every square inch of the college campus before the big game. Tailgating has long since progressed from chips and cold sandwiches to sophisticated buffets complete with tablecloths.
This all-American fall ritual can seem a little intimidating when you're watching your weight. But there's no reason a tailgate picnic has to sideline your weight loss efforts. With a little planning, you can stick to your healthy eating plan while cheering on your favorite team.
Take a Tailgate Time Out
Before you dive into the buffet, follow these tips to curb your caloric intake:
Score Points With Guests
If you're the party host, do your fellow fans a favor by making sure your buffet includes plenty of healthy offerings such as:
Touchdown Tips for Food Safety
According to the American Dietetic Association, the average sports fan partakes in tailgating five times during a football season. And according to a recent survey, most tailgaters take unnecessary food-poisoning risks. Food is often kept at temperatures that promote bacterial contamination. Many tailgaters also recycle pre-game picnic food to eat again after the game.
Follow these guidelines to keep your food out of the danger zone:
These guidelines aren't intended just for those on the traveling team; follow them even if you're enjoying the showdown from your living room. When you're equipped with a plan for healthy eating, your tailgate (or television) party can be a success all the way to the final whistle.
Three cheers for your favorite team!
Originally published Oct. 14, 2004
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