Top 7 tips for being healthy on game day


This post is brought to you in partnership with Atrium Health. All opinions are our own.

Football season has commenced — and along with all the excitement, there is endless potential for snacking.

Over-the-top food spreads on game day have become the norm. With never-ending indulgent snacks at your fingertips, it is difficult to make healthy choices.

The aftermath of overindulging

In the moment, snacking may be mindless — but these game day snack scenes are not doing your waistline or your blood sugar any favors, not to mention how you might feel the day after the game if you overindulged. You might feel slightly guilty, groggy with a mental food hangover of sorts or your stomach might ache from all the food you took in while you were not even paying attention.

You are not the only one scarfing down snacks. Football viewers consume pounds of potato chips, tortilla chips, popcorn, nuts, chicken wings and pizza every game day. In a four to five hour period, some fans consume thousands of calories!

Make a game day game plan

Having a game plan on how to avoid inhaling outrageous amounts of calories on game day is conducive to staying on a healthier course. Because game day can test your desire to eat healthier and/or you need to monitor your blood sugar, it is ideal to be realistic about what you are walking into.

Find a healthy approach

Two nutritional experts from the Atrium Health Diabetes Center, Kathy Jackson, RN, program coordinator, and Tonya Ashrafi, registered dietician, reveal how to have a healthful approach to snacking at your next football get together.

Pregame with protein

Going to a tailgate or a football viewing party on an empty stomach is simply tempting fate. An appealing spread of snacks is much harder to resist if you are hungry to begin with. Eating a small meal composed of protein and whole grains before you head to the tailgate is a great way to combat temptation. The protein will keep you satisfied and make you less prone to gorge on snacks when you arrive.

Avoid drinking calories

Sodas and many alcoholic beverages are chock-full of sugar and calories, so if you are watching your calorie intake, consider opting for water. Enjoying one soda or one beer is not a catastrophe for your calorie goals. However, when a single beer or a single soda turns into multiples, the calorie content of those drinks should be considered if you are aiming for a certain calorie scope. If you are gulping down high-calorie drinks while simultaneously ingesting high calorie snacks, your calories will compound rapidly. Enjoy some snacks and do not blow all your calories on beverages!

Survey all of the options

If there are numerous snack options, it is best to survey the landscape before you make your plate. This way you will not fill your plate with foods you do not truly want to try. Select a few dishes you wish to taste and stick with your choices. Avoid straying to other dishes simply because they are offered to you. If you happen to put a food on your plate that looks better than it tastes, do not polish it off. It is not a crime to leave your plate unfinished, even if you have trained yourself to feel like it is.

Save the worst for last

It is understandably difficult to deny tailgate staples like nachos, pizza and wings. Because of this, diving into higher-calorie favorites after you have filled up on healthy alternatives like veggies or fruit is ideal. This strategy sets you up to be less inclined to overeat the high-calorie options.

Location, location, location

If you are trying to cut back on the snacks you consume consider your location. If possible, do not position yourself directly next to the snacks or the refrigerator wherever you are watching the game. If the snacks are within your reach, you are more likely to continue grabbing food, so try not to let them be too accessible for you.

If you are considering refilling your plate, wait a minimum of 20 minutes before getting more. This gives your body the chance to indicate that you are full and do not need additional food. If you do ultimately decide to revisit the snacks, make sure to watch your portions.

Turns out, it’s not so hard to make healthy choices while still enjoying the game with your friends.

Want to learn more about Atrium Health? Click here for more information.


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