Don't Let Tailgating Get Your Healthy Eating Off Course

You’re worried your healthful eating regimen will crumble in the face of months of weekend tailgates this football season. Relax—a little moderation, some smart substitutions and more time spent on the move will help you enjoy this season’s get-togethers as much as ever without packing on pounds. You relish the camaraderie, the fresh air and, yes, the food of tailgating, but know the grills brimming with red meat, coolers full of calorie-laden beverages, and mile-high cookie and brownie plates could lead you toward a health nightmare. Instead of being a tailgate no-show or avoiding traditional fare altogether, try these tips for enjoying the game-day gatherings:

•Build a better-for-you burger. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends crafting burgers using at least 93 percent lean ground turkey or beef. Use whole-wheat buns. Try making sliders or cutting a full-size burger in half for portion control.

•Choose condiments and seasonings wisely. Use salt and sauces sparingly. Dress burgers with lettuce, tomato and onions instead of cheese and mayo. Mustard is a more healthful choice than ketchup, according to the ADA.

•Graze well. Your tendency to snack takes over during a tailgate. Bring some healthful options with you, such as a vegetable tray with hummus or a platter of sliced fruits. •Keep your taste buds on their toes. Forget sodium-rich hot dogs and bratwursts—try chicken kebabs with bell peppers and onions, salmon burgers, or make-your-own grilled chicken wraps.

•Sip and savor. If you drink alcohol or soda, limit yourself to no more than two beverages and enjoy them slowly; otherwise, you can’t go wrong with water, especially with lemon or lime to add flavor.

•Stand up for fun. Resist the temptation to eat and then plant yourself in front of the TV to watch a triple-header of games for hours. Instead, burn calories by tossing the pigskin with your children, playing cornhole with friends, taking a walk to check out the scene at other tents, or simply standing and talking with a group of fellow fans—just don’t spend too much time sitting. Tailgating has so many appealing aspects. It’s an opportunity to get out of the house, share your passion for your team with other equally ardent fans and make lasting memories. In short, it’s about much more than food. Think of the tailgate spread as just a small part of a great event. And Lift, and Cheer, and Lift, and Cheer You can’t get out to the game every Saturday or Sunday, so why not get in a workout while watching the action on TV?

Try some of these activities to keep those hours in the living room from going to waste, health-wise:

•Celebrate successful kicks by performing 10 overhead dumbbell lifts for every made field goal or extra point.

•Devise your own touchdown dance, but do it every time your team makes a first down.

•Every time your team scores, perform the same number of push-ups or sit-ups as the number of points on the board.

•Hop on the treadmill and see how many miles you can walk or jog in a quarter.

•Spend each commercial break performing leg extensions (bringing your legs into a straight position while sitting on the edge of a chair) with ankle weights.