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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, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian / Certified Diabetes Educator at UNC Family Medicine at Rosewood:

  • 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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