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How to Make Your Tailgate Party Healthier

1107772406_1370520219Lightening Up the Grill

Grilling during football season has no boundaries, whether at the tailgate or at home, the grill is king. However, that does not mean there are not healthy options. Megan Davis, MS, RD, LD, a clinical dietitian with Eat Right, says that eating at mealtimes can help you keep from overeating, while choosing leaner meats to grill will cut out fat.

If you and your guests are having burgers, Davis suggests using wheat buns and adding vegetables to your toppings selection to limit calories. Some healthy substitutes for hamburger toppings are avocadoes, tomatoes, and lettuce. Adding vegetables to kabobs is another way to get your daily vegetable servings.

Davis says that you can make your favorite recipes healthier by using low-fat products or including more vegetables. For example, instead of using mayonnaise substitute part or all of it with Greek yogurt, use vegetables instead of chips with dip, or make a black bean dip that has less fat.

Drink Less Calories

Football season can be challenging with weight gain from alcohol for many of Davis’s clients, but a few changes to how you mix your favorite beverages can make a big difference. To cut calories, try mixing wine with Seltzer water to make a wine spritzer, or using diet beverages in mixed drinks. Davis says that keeping alcoholic beverages in a separate cooler than water will also make you less likely to choose alcohol over water and keep hydrating.

Davis says that if you do choose to consume alcoholic beverages, to use simple measuring tricks to calculate caloric intake. “You can estimate how many calories per ounce for a beer by multiplying the amount by volume (the alcoholic percentage) by 2.5 or 3 for heavier beers,” says Davis.

When it comes to wine, Davis says that the general rule is to choose a 9 to 12 percent alcohol, which will equal between 110 to 140 calories in a six-ounce glass. The spirit drinks have more calories per ounce depending on the proof, so the rule is to subtract 15 from the proof and that will give you the amount of calories per ounce.

Get Active at Your Tailgate

Football players on the TV screen are not the only movement that can happen at a tailgate. Davis says that she and her team encourage people to incorporate physical activity at their tailgates. Some options are to throw the ball before the game or during halftime, walk around campus, or park further away in order to get more steps in a day.

“There’s a lot of research that shows you eat 30 percent more if you’re distracted watching TV, so keep food away from the TV,” says Davis. She says that if someone has to get up to get to the food they are not able to sit mindlessly and eat.

Finally, she says that putting all your food on one plate will keep you from grazing throughout the game, which can lead to overeating.

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