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Football fever has once again hit the Midlands. And with football comes the annual tradition of tailgating. This year, consider making your tailgate party fun and healthy by eating heart-healthy snacks while you cheer your favorite team to victory.
“Tailgating often is associated with barbecued wings, fried chicken, potato chips, hamburgers, beer, soft drinks, and other non-healthy foods,” says registered dietitian Colleen Wracker. “But, there are many healthy choices that are good for you, and just as delicious. There’s no reason why we all can’t eat more healthy during football season.”
Wracker suggests making substitutions to foods you traditionally take to a tailgate party. Instead of potato chips, consider the newer baked chips. Replace hamburgers with grilled turkey or veggie burgers. Substitute fast-food fried chicken with baked chicken you cooked in advance.
“Have lots of healthy finger food available such as raw vegetables, sliced fruit, pretzels and low-fat cheese,” Wracker says. “This helps fill that urge to snack while enjoying your time with friends before the game.”
Wracker suggests experimenting with new tailgating menu items, too. “Consider grilling portabella mushrooms and serving on whole-wheat buns. Grilled fresh vegetables also are a tasty treat,” she says.
When preparing food the night before, consider a seven-layer salad instead of potato or macaroni salad. A hero sandwich is another healthy alternative to an all-beef hamburger that can be prepared the night before.
Also watch your intake of calories from beverages. Regular soft drinks, sweet tea, juices, and alcohol-based beverages can add several hundred calories to your intake. Consider unsweetened drinks or water with lemon.
Whether you’re a fan who tailgates weekly or watches your favorite team from the comfort of your own den, consider taking these steps toward healthier eating. This way, you not only reduce your risk of heart disease, you’re also ahead of the game in the fight against high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity—all risk factors for heart disease.