The Diet Detective: Eating at the Stadium

Hot dog vs. Pizza vs. Sausage and Peppers

Most sold-out stadiums sell as many as 16,000 hot dogs a day. A regular hot dog with mustard is your best bet, totaling about 290 calories: 180 for the two-ounce dog, 110 for the bun, and virtually no calories for regular yellow mustard. Sauerkraut adds another 5-10 calories (two tablespoons), ketchup adds 30 (two tablespoons) and relish, another 40 (two tablespoons). Also, many stadiums serve foot-long hotdogs, which can double the calories in the frankfurter and bun, bringing the grand total to 580 without any toppings. Pizza at the stadium is a bit larger than a typical slice, about one-sixth of a 16-inch pie (rather than one-eighth), which comes to 435 calories per slice. And the sausage-and-pepper sandwich is about the same—430 calories for five ounces, including the bun.

Super Nachos With Cheese vs. Fries vs. Corn

A 12-ounce serving of super nachos with cheese (40 chips, four ounces of cheese) has more than 1,500 calories —wow! You're better off with a six-ounce serving of french fries at about 500 calories. Corn on the cob, however, is your best option—80 calories for the corn and about 100 calories for the butter topping. You could even have two (360 calories) and still save 140 calories.

Peanuts in the Shell vs. Popcorn vs. Soft Pretzel vs. Fruit cup

Nothing says a day at the game better than a bag of peanuts. Stadiums sell as many as 6,000 bags on game days, depending on attendance. The only problem is that an eight-ounce bag has 840 calories, and a 12-ounce bag has 1,260. The upside is that peanuts are high in magnesium, vitamin E, niacin, folate and monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats. The popcorn comes in a huge tub, often heaping with more than 120 ounces, which have roughly 1,500 calories. Your best deal is a plain, soft pretzel (5.5 ounces) at about 400 calories—but stay away from those huge pretzels (7 to 8 ounces), which have about 700 calories. However, your best bet, and definitely the healthiest choice, is a six-ounce fruit cup—only 80 calories each.

More: Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Snow Cone vs. Draft beer vs. Soda

Even though snow cones use 1 to 2 ounces of flavored syrup (at almost 60 calories an ounce), they aren't too bad compared with other game-time snacks: a 12-ounce snow cone has as many as 120 calories. Beer is not that bad, either, but the draft beer served at the stadium comes in 20-ounce cups, which means about 240 calories. Get a light draft if you can, and you'll save 60 calories for a 20-ounce serving. Soda is definitely not a bargain at about 230 calories for 20 ounces.

More: What you Should Know About Soft Drinks

What About Healthier Options?

Previously, health-conscious baseball fans either had to bring snacks with them or satisfy themselves with basic ballpark fare. Today, many stadium food-service providers, such as Aramark, offer healthier options. For instance, at Atlanta's Turner Field, you can buy freshly made salads; at Anaheim's Angel Stadium there's corn on the cob; at Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards, you can find frozen yogurt and fruit smoothies; and at Boston's Fenway Park, enjoy a fresh fruit salad. There are even veggie hot dogs and burgers at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum and baked potatoes at Pittsburgh's PNC Park at North Shore. (Source: www.ballparkfoods.com)

Nutrition tips:

  • Eat before you leave home so that you're not starving when you see the vendors selling enticing treats.
  • It's OK to purchase some food, but make sure you also bring along healthy snacks like oranges, apples, energy bars, 100-calorie snack packs, etc.
  • Share the snacks&mdash:which shares the calories.
  • Be realistic about what you buy—don't overbuy just to have extra.
  • Watch out for unconscious eating. When you're focused on the game, you can consume massive amounts of calories without paying any attention.
  • Try not to eat directly from the bag—ask the concessionaire for an extra container or plate and split things up.

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CHARLES STUART PLATKIN is a nutrition and public health advocate, author of the bestseller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), The Diet Detective's Count Down (Simon & Schuster, 2007) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www.dietdetective.com.

Copyright 2006 by Charles Stuart Platkin


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