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.
Before you dive into the buffet, follow these tips to curb your caloric
Earn a little splurge on Saturday afternoon by saving a few food items from
your eating plan during the week.
Before the festivities begin, have a small snack that contains protein and
fiber (like cereal and yogurt) so you'll be less tempted to overeat.
Survey all the offerings before you load your plate, then select plenty of
fruits, vegetables, and lean dairy and protein.
Eat from a plate instead of continually grazing from the buffet. This will
help you keep track of how much you're eating.
Remember that alcohol has plenty of calories. One tactic is to alternate alcoholic drinks with zero-calorie beverages throughout
the day. Remember that too much alcohol can lead to increased hunger.
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:
Fresh fruit, sliced or in salads or kabobs
Assorted vegetables with low-fat dips and salsas
Low-fat snacks such as popcorn, pretzels, and baked chips
Lean meats and seafood and low-fat cheeses
Whole-grain breads and crackers
Salads made with light dressings
Salsas, wraps, salads, or stews made with fiber-filled and high-protein
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.