Tailgating season is in full swing! Sometimes navigating food options in social environments can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to take away from the fun of football! One of our dietitians on staff, Abby Harris, MS, RDN gave us a few great pointers on how to make healthier choices in the midst of all the fun.

Food Fumbles

Common tailgate foods include burgers, sausages, and dips loaded with cheese and sour cream – or as we like to call them, “Food Fumbles.” While these foods are tasty, they can impact our health and waistline. These foods are all high in saturated fats, which increase our risk of heart disease by raising our LDL cholesterol levels.

First Down Foods

So, how can we make those Food Fumbles into First Down Foods? Here are some easy swaps. Instead of high-fat protein, opt for leaner options like ground turkey, chicken sausage, sirloin or eye of round. Also, pay attention to how your foods are prepared. Fried foods are high in fat and full of calories. Baking, grilling, and broiling are alternative cooking methods that are healthier but still give you the same great flavor. Not feeling the meat? Skip it all together! Try a three-bean chili or a veggie pizza instead of the meat-lovers special.

Side-Line Foods

These foods are what we like to call the ‘good guys’ because they pair well with lean proteins and make delicious snacking options.

  • Skip the chips and crackers and use fresh veggies for dips
  • Step away from the cheese! Opt for salsa, guacamole (it’s filled with healthy fats), and hummus!
  • Modify your favorite dishes with healthier options like Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cheese

Not So Healthy vs. Healthy

Let’s take a look at a popular tailgate recipe. 

Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • ½ cup ranch dressing
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ½ hot sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Now, a few simple swaps to the recipe can make it a heart-healthy snack!

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. Ranch seasoning
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ½ cup hot sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Take Water Breaks

Staying hydrated can be tough, but can also make all the difference in how you feel throughout the day.

  • Drink a glass (or bottle) of water with meals.
  • Fill up at water fountains along the way.
  • Alternate between other drinks and water.

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