4 tips for a healthy tailgate

10.27.14 |

What does your tailgate spread look like?

As you may have seen on my Facebook page, I recently attended an NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, where the Ravens took on the Atlanta Falcons (and won!).

While I had a blast and greatly enjoyed the time spent with family and friends, I couldn’t help but notice the unhealthy indulgences of the tailgaters outside the stadium. Many of these individuals are already demonstrating excessive weight and sedentary habits, in direct contrast to the amazing athletes who they want to emulate and whose jerseys they wear.

I understand that Sunday football games offer us a chance to kick back, relax, and forget about the stresses of our work weeks before ramping up Monday morning to get back on the grind. I also understand that tailgates are traditionally a time to let loose and to allow fun to take precedence over everything else in our lives.

The traditional rituals can co-exist with healthier choices!

The next time you’re planning a tailgate, keep these four tips in mind. You’ll have fun, and your health won’t suffer!

1. Take a health-friendly dish

The easiest way to make sure there’s healthy food at a tailgate is to take your own. You can take a tray of mixed nuts, some hummus and whole-wheat pita chips, or a veggie tray. There are plenty of options here, and if you take healthy food, it might even encourage the other tailgaters to try it out, too. Don’t overlook the simplest strategy for keeping your health in mind at a tailgate; take your own food!

2. Get up and move

Instead of sitting around, eating, and drinking the entire time you’re tailgating, try tossing a football or a Frisbee with a friend. Tailgates offer a great time to relax and socialize, but you can still chat it up with old friends while throwing a football or playing cornhole. It’s not an intense workout, but simply being up and moving will benefit your health in remarkable ways, especially when compared to the alternative: sitting and eating.

3. Limit your alcohol intake

Consuming an overabundance of alcohol comes with obvious health ramifications, and there are few settings which encourage excessive drinking like a tailgate. Choosing against this is on you, and only you have the power to limit yourself. Think about how important your health is to you, and think about any responsibilities you have that evening and the next day. Is it worth it?

You can still have a drink or two outside the stadium and then grab some waters during the game. You’ll feel better physically and mentally, and you won’t sacrifice your health in the process.

4. Have fun

Ultimately, our emotional health is just as important as our physical health. A healthy mind is a vital part of the Habits of Health, and an event like a tailgate is the perfect time to crack jokes with friend and to reset our brains to “happy” mode.

Keep the basics in mind by using the above tips, but make sure you don’t get so caught up that you forget to have fun!