Friday, November 19

Winning nutrition for football season
By Sharon Howard, R.D., M.S., C.D.E. FADA

Does the thought of football season inspire not only thoughts of exciting teams and fast moving action, but also delicious food, drink and lots of it? Do you typically put on several pounds during the fall season as a sports spectator and blame it on all that holiday cooking?

If so, perhaps you are a football food junkie. Don't worry, you're not alone. Each year millions of Americans pile into the car and head for the football stadium of their choice -- toting pounds and pounds of food with them and preparing huge tailgating feasts. Others plop in front of the TV with remote control in one hand, balancing beer and chips in the other.

Why be concerned? If you are an occasional football game spectator and enjoy the food and drink offered, don't be alarmed. Relax and enjoy the good weather, great munchies and action-filled, crisp autumn days. If, however, you attend football games frequently and perhaps even own season tickets, your waist, weight and health may be the losers.

Adding up the calorie and fat score

Do you enjoy tailgate parties? Pregame tailgate parties are popular all across the country. Although the actual menu varies widely regionally, most have one thing in common: fat-filled food, large portion sizes, and second helpings on everything.

Sample Pre-game Breakfast Tailgate Party

Food and Amount % calories from fat Fat (grams) Total calories
Creamed dried beef on English muffin 48% 46 grams 858
Orange juice 16 oz. 0 0 200
sausage 3 oz. 27 27 grams 331
Beer, regular, 24 oz. 0 0 300

Total -- 63 fat grams, 1689 calories

Sample Game Time Menu

Food and Amount % calories from fat Fat (grams) Total calories
Large sausage and pepper submarine sandwich 54% 55 grams 912
Potato chips 3 oz. 60% 30 grams 450
Beer, regular 36 oz. 0 0 450
Nacho chips with cheese 3 oz. 48% 14 grams 260
Cola 20 oz. 0 0 250

Total -- 99 fat grams, 2322 calories

With a grand total of 4000 kcals and 162 gms of fat, it's no wonder pounds creep on during football season. To make matters worse, if you tend to put on pounds in the abdominal region ("apple body shape"), you are at greater risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease and some types of cancer than those who store fat primarily in the hip and thigh regions (pear body shape). All the more reason to trim those game-day meals!

Planning is the key to winning at health

Keeping weight off during football season does not have to be a losing battle. A little bit of advance planning goes a long way in promoting success. After all, you have probably spent quite a bit of time planning which games to attend, which seats to purchase, whom to invite, and how to get there. Why not spend a bit of time developing a plan for eating as well?

Winning weight control tips for football fanatics

If you tailgate:

  • If you attend games weekly, consider a change in menu. Try pancakes or scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon in lieu of sausage, biscuits, cream dried beef, donuts, and other fat-laden entrees.
  • Use nonstick pans and pack cooking spray. If you must add oil or butter to your pan, use a paper towel to apply it to limit the quantity used.
  • Pack bagels or English muffins and if hungry, spread with jelly or light cream cheese.
  • Take a walk around the parking lot to get some exercise and destroy some food cravings while waiting for the game to start.
  • Watch your portion sizes and go easy on seconds. Try to eat more slowly than usual.
  • If you are the cook, prepare only enough for you and your crowd. Don't cook extras since the temptation to "clean up leftovers" will be strong.
  • Bring along plenty of water, flavored seltzer and/or diluted juice.
  • Drink less beer than you normally would. Each 12-ounce can contributes another 150 calories.

During the game:

  • Pack a sandwich or two, using 2 or 3 thin slices of roast beef, turkey or lean ham and plenty of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and onions if desired. Use whole grain breads or rolls, pitas, or sourdough bread.
  • If you order from the concession stands, order 1 hot dog, hamburger or slice of plain pizza. Forgo the pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese on pizza.
  • Have a soft pretzel or small bag of pretzels in lieu of chips.
  • Skip the cheese on the sandwich and use light or fat free mayonnaise. Better yet, use mustard.
  • Pack 3 or 4 pieces of fruit and/or a bag of baby carrots to munch on when your team is struggling and you are tempted to order French fries or nachos as a stress-buster.
  • Bring a water bottle or purchase bottled water at the concession stands. Drink 3 glasses of water for every can of beer.
  • Drink diet cola instead of regular cola.
  • Outline your pre-game eating strategy ahead of time, and you may likely trim half the fat and calories from the day's intake, and win the "battle of the bulge". Come Monday morning, you will feel like a winner -- even if your favorite team lost the weekend game!

The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in this website is for educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No one should act upon any information provided in this website without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician.

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