Fall football season has arrived and that means it’s time for tailgate parties galore! Whether you’re staking out a tailgate spot at your alma mater for the big game, or joining friends at a viewing party at someone’s house on a Monday night, tailgating is a fun way to socialize, party, and enjoy football season with other fans.
The downside to tailgating is often the over-consumption it leads to – grazing while catching up with friends at the snack table, drinking alcohol, you get the idea. When it comes to making your next tailgate party healthier, don’t miss these smart tips:
Play Touch Football
Incorporate a dose of physical fitness into your tailgate party with a friendly game of touch football! Fun for kids and adults alike, touch football is a great way to get energy out before the professionals hit the field, as well as to burn calories and exercise muscles. Playing touch football is easy – simply have your players break into teams and divide into basic offensive and defensive lines. Play per basic football rules that apply to touchdowns, but focus on passing and remember, no tackling! Simply touching a player (either with one or two hands) counts as a tackle.
Watch What You Drink
The party atmosphere of tailgating often means plenty of alcohol consumption. Hidden in alcohol and mixers, however, is a potent amount of calories and sugar which can negatively impact any health or exercise goals you accomplished the week prior. Make sure to avoid sugar-laden mixed beverages, especially those made with energy drinks, and avoid high-calorie beers and wines. Your best bet is to follow each drink with one or two glasses of water as well to prevent your body from dehydrating and to help you feel fuller without chugging more beer.
Grill Healthier Options
Did you know that scientists found replacing one serving of animal protein a day with a plant-based protein could decrease your chances of dying early? Unfortunately, tailgate parties are often havens of red meat, from steaks to burgers to processed hot dogs. Not only are these types of animal proteins often doused in salt which can contribute to high blood pressure, but they are often accompanied by unhealthy buns, salty chips, and other sides. Consider grilling whole vegetables like corn, bell peppers, onions, squash, and broccoli to go with your tailgate offerings this season, or simply make sure there are hearty salads with fresh vegetables and whole grains to go on the side.
Exercise While You Watch
Whether you’re at a game in person or watching it on TV Monday night, football games might have you sitting for up to 4 or 5 hours at a time. With recent study findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine that link prolonged sitting to early death, it is critical that you make a point to keep moving during your football watching adventure. This can include getting up frequently to hit the restroom or simply stretch and walk around. Or exercise your feet and legs while you watch with a mini portable bike pedal exerciser – check these out.
Want to practice healthier habits at your tailgate parties all football season long? Then don’t skip breakfast! Tailgating often starts around mid-day leading up to afternoon or evening games, and many super fans will skip breakfast to “save room” for the party. Not only does this potentially leave you craving more food than you would normally eat come lunch time, but you need breakfast to give your body the protein and nutrients it requires to kickstart your metabolism for the day. Eating breakfast will help you burn more calories and avoid making unhealthy eating decisions come tailgate time.