It’s fall, you pick your fantasy team, set your line up, talk smack to your friends and, best of all, you spend all day Saturday and Sunday watching the greatest sport known to man—football. It took eight months, but NFL and NCAA football is finally back in your life.
Now the question is: how far off the wagon will you fall this football season?
With tailgates and all-day watch parties, food is going to be the second focal point of your weekends—and we’re not talking healthy food.
With some help though, football season doesn’t have to derail your health or fitness goals.
Avoid mindless munching.1 of 12
There's truth to the saying, "Out of sight, out of mind." Getting out of the way of temptation is not a sign of weakness or poor self-control, but rather an intelligent response to avoid problems.
Avoid hanging out right next to the food. If something is tempting you, remove yourself from the situation by taking a walk. There's no shame in knowing your weaknesses.
Modify your favorites.2 of 12
When you're cooking food yourself, you don't have to give up traditional party favorites when you can make healthier versions of them. Love loaded nachos? Make your own by using mini bell peppers in place of nacho chips. Add shredded chicken breast or pork tenderloin or 93 percent or more lean ground turkey or beef. Top your nachos with diced tomatoes, reduced-fat cheese, chopped scallions, low-fat plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), avocado slices and any other toppings you like.
Want chili? Make it with lean ground beef or turkey and pack it with veggies, like pumpkin puree, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions.
Stay hydrated.3 of 12
Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. It's easy to mistake thirst for hunger; plus, nothing hydrates the body better. Need a little splash of flavor? Infuse your water with fresh herbs, veggies, and fruits.
Limit alcohol.4 of 12
Alcohol promotes dehydration, lessens inhibitions—which can lead to poor food choices—and is a non-nutritive source of calories. Avoid it if possible and if not, stick with just one or two servings of light beer, regular beer, wine or hard liquors mixed with zero-calorie mixers and chasers.
Another option? Try a mocktail, such as this Spicy Berry Daiquiri.
Be active.5 of 12
Stand as much as possible, and squeeze in as many steps as you can throughout the day. Walk to a bathroom that is a bit farther away; take a walk at half-time with a friend; play a game of pick-up football before the game starts; pace while you watch the game—the options are endless. You just have to be intentional about it.
Think lean meat and non-starchy veggies.6 of 12
Make half of your plate non-starchy veggies. Why? They'll fill you up while providing you with a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, water and dietary fiber, the latter of which works synergistically with protein to help fill you up and keep you satisfied.
Lean meat options include boneless skinless chicken breast, pork chops, sirloin, T-bone, flank steak, burgers made with 93 percent or more lean ground meats and fish or seafood, like salmon or shrimp.
Stick with grilling, since it's a low-cal method of cooking.
Eat breakfast.7 of 12
Starting your day right with a balanced breakfast is just as important on Saturday and Sunday as it is during the week. This will help prevent cravings later in the day while giving you the energy you need for the big game. Avoid skipping breakfast (or any meal) to "save up" calories, as this can lead to overindulging later in the day.
Choose wisely.8 of 12
Survey all the offerings before you load your plate. Only splurge on a small serving of something that is truly worth it, like your best friend's homemade chocolate chip cookies. Don't waste calories on anything that isn't extraordinary, like store-bought cookies.
Avoid fat-laden and sauce-heavy foods.9 of 12
Make burgers with 93 to 99 percent lean ground beef or turkey. Opt for healthy burger toppings like lettuce, tomato, mustard and onion. Skip the cheese, mayo, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and perhaps even the bun to save unnecessary calories and fat.
If you want the bun, stick with one that is 100% whole wheat or make your own tomato "bun" or lettuce "wrap."
Control your portions.10 of 12
Stick with a small plate (perhaps an appetizer or dessert plate) and fill most of it up with non-starchy vegetables and lean protein. Try to avoid seconds, and eat your food slowly so that your body can register when it is full.
Another technique? Make foods in smaller portions, such as sliders instead of full-size burgers or mini zucchini pizza bites instead of a whole slice of pizza.
Enjoy fruit for dessert11 of 12
Instead of high-calorie sweets loaded with sugar and fat, opt for fresh fruit instead. It's naturally sweet, hydrating and full of health-promoting nutrients.
Alexandra Miller is the Corporate Dietician at Dual Fuel Nutrition.
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