UAB Medicine News


Tailgating Survival Guide for a Healthier Game Day

Football season is a great time to be alive in Alabama, and those good times often start with tailgate parties. This beloved tradition sometimes gets a bad rap for being too indulgent, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Here are some fun and healthy ways to enjoy the pre-game festivities without crushing your diet or neglecting your health.

Get Some Exercise in the Morning: Head outside for an early morning jog or a long walk to get in some cardio. Once the eating and drinking starts, you’ll feel better knowing that you already burned off some calories.

Stay Hydrated: Given the amount of heat, sun, walking, and alcohol that often go hand in hand with tailgating, it’s important to consume plenty of water. And keep extra bottles on ice to share with fellow fans.

Watch Your Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol stimulates the appetite, affects your judgment with regard to safety, and can give you a serious headache when consumed in excess in the heat. Help keep this in check by limiting your alcohol consumption and drinking at least two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage you have. This warning becomes especially important if you have to drive home after the game.

Serve Easy and Healthy Foods: There are plenty of delicious and satisfying alternatives to the traditional burgers, hot dogs, chips, and fattening dips. A quick Google search can help you locate easy recipes for kale chips, hummus dips, bean salads, turkey chili, smoked chicken breasts, low-calorie cookies, and other heathier alternatives.

Don’t Skip Breakfast: Some fans may be inclined to forego breakfast to save room for binge eating the rest of the day. Instead, eat a hearty breakfast of protein and healthy fats, which will help regulate your appetite and prevent cravings for sugar and carbs.

Avoid Foods That Need Refrigeration: Spoilage can be a problem for certain foods that spend the day in the heat and sun. As a general rule, don’t leave perishable food out for over two hours, but reduce that to one hour if it’s over 90 degrees outside. Any perishable food that isn’t consumed within that time should be thrown away to prevent food poisoning.

Set Some Rules for Yourself: Resolve to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables to offset the less healthy items on the other half. Small plates are great for tailgating parties because they help prevent overeating.

Take an Occasional Walk: We all love people-watching, so make a point to get up and stroll around the tailgating village to see what everyone else is getting up to while getting in some light exercise.

Protect Yourself from the Sun: Wear sunglasses with UV protection and a hat while outdoors for the pre-party and during the game. Cover exposed skin using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to prevent long-term skin damage.

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