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Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Rooting for the home team doesn't have to mean running afoul of your diet

Ameriquest Field (home of the Texas Rangers)

Healthier options:

  • The "Kids Stand" area offers fresh fruit, fruit juice, and milk
  • The stadium smokehouse serves turkey legs
  • Chicken Caesar salad with a light dressing
  • Fresh soft pretzels
  • Cheese pizza

Most popular food items:

  • Jumbo hot dogs
  • Pretzels
  • Garlic fries
  • Smokehouse brisket

Recent trends:

  • Low-carb cola, beer, salads, and wrap sandwiches are more popular

I was thrilled to see that many ballparks are making an effort to offer more healthful concession options. The standards, like hot dogs and French fries, aren't going anywhere -- but isn't it nice that there is room on the menu for veggie kabobs, light Greek salads, Gardenburgers, and sushi?

The way I see it, there are four basic keys to more healthful ballpark dining:

1. Choose the lower-fat, lower-calorie concession selections.

Every time you buy something at a ballpark, you are placing a vote to the management, telling them what you like to see on the menu. Shea Stadium added a Gardenburger to its menu last year, but it was taken off for this season due to insufficient sales.

So if your stadium offers a healthful menu option, show them that you are all for it -- order that instead of the hot link sandwich.

2. BYOP (Bring Your Own Produce)

Fruits and vegetables are much better to mindlessly munch than peanuts, chips, Cracker Jacks, etc. With their high fiber and water content, they help fill you up so you will be less likely to overeat ballpark fare.

Let's compare a cup of the traditional munchies with a cup of assorted fruits and vegetables:

  • 1 cup peanuts: 854 calories, 72 g fat, 10 g fiber
  • 2 ounces potato chips: 305 calories, 19 g fat, 2 g fiber
  • 1 cup Cracker Jack: 169 calories, 3.3 g fat, 1.5 g fiber
  • 1 cup carrot sticks: 31 calories, 0.1 g fat, 2 g fiber
  • 1 cup celery sticks: 12 calories, 0 g fat, 1.2 g fiber
  • 1 cup jicama sticks: 45 calories, 0.1 g fat, 6 g fiber
  • 1 cup strawberries: 43 calories, 0.5 g fat, 2.2 g fiber
  • 1 cup grapes: 114 calories, 0.9 g fat, 1 g fiber
  • 1 cup cherries: 104 calories, 1.4 g fat, 2.5 g fiber
  • 1 cup cantaloupe cubes: 56 calories, 0.4 g fat, 1.3 g fiber

3. Beware of Ballpark Beverages

It's a long day when you go to a game (including driving, parking, stadium walking etc.). Over five to six hours, you'll need quite a few pints of thirst-quenching liquid -- especially on hot days. So save yourself both money and calories by bringing your own water or sparkling mineral water.

For hot games, freeze water bottles ahead of time so they'll be nice and cold at the ballpark. Be sure to check with the stadium ahead of time to find out what kind of beverage containers are allowed inside (usually plastic). You can always buy a token beverage -- like a diet soda or light beer ­ as well, if you wish.

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