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Published on September 22, 2018

Six Ways to Host a Healthy Tailgate

Hosting Health Tailgate.

Ready to tailgate? Providing healthy tailgate options that are full of flavor can help you and your buddies maintain a calorie balance on game day and stay fit throughout the season.

Gear up for delicious gatherings this season, with the following tips from Kali Williams, Registered Dietitian with Wayne UNC Health Care Center for Nutrition and Diabetes Health:

  • Limit alcohol: Alcohol is an appetite stimulant that makes you want to eat more, while decreasing your ability to burn fat. Williams suggests setting a drink limit, drinking closer to game time instead of all day, using calorie-free mixers and alternating alcoholic beverages with water (one drink followed by one bottle of water).
  • Eat breakfast: Skipping breakfast can lead to overeating at the game. “Consider including a protein source at breakfast to help control hunger,” said Williams. “Some good examples would include eggs and toast, oatmeal and walnuts or Greek yogurt and fruit.
  • Avoid grazing all day with high-calorie foods: Williams suggests picking three must-have foods and using a small plate for portion control, choosing a fruit and vegetable and filling half of your plate and limiting yourself to one plate.
  • Offer to bring a dish: this way you can be sure to have a healthier option at the tailgate. Instead of hot dogs or hamburgers, Williams suggests bringing leaner options like chicken and pork tenderloin, replacing high-fat chip dips with salsa or guacamole and trying vegetable kabobs and fruit salad as ways to include fruits and veggies.
  • Move: Go for a walk around the tailgate section, or walk during halftime. “The more we move on game day, the easier it is to create that calorie balance,” said Williams.
  • Follow food safety: it’s important during a tailgate to keep food hot or cold. Williams suggests packing coolers immediately before leaving. A full cooler stays colder. She also says:
    • Bring hand sanitizer or wipes
    • Cook meat to proper internal temperatures and pack a thermometer to ensure safety
    • Do not leave food unrefrigerated. This can cause bacteria to grow and people to get sick
    • Throw food out if it is not refrigerated within two hours of cooking
    • When temperatures are above 90 degrees, refrigerate within one hour

Tailgate Recipes

Sticking to these tips can help ensure you have a safe and healthy tailgate for the whole season. Also, check out the following recipes for a delicious and nutritious tailgate:

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