Fall is officially in full swing…and this season marks the start of my absolute favorite sport: Football! And true football fans…TAILGATE!
Tailgating is seriously one of my favorite fall pastimes. It takes me back to my college days, where we’d get decked out in Cougar crimson and take full advantage of the fact that we could drink in public. Half the time, my friends and I would skip the game altogether and watch from someone’s RV to avoid the crowds and continue the party. Now, I only get to tailgate a few times a year, as trekking to Pullman for Cougar games isn’t realistic now that I have a big-girl job. But I’ve still managed to make it to a few games this season, and you bet I tailgated like a champ.
If you know me at all, you know where this is going. People always ask me why I like tailgating…it’s all about beer and crappy food. I’m well aware. As with everything, there are ways to make healthier choices and still have a blast! Here are a few tips for tailgating without completely throwing off your health kick:
- Eat beforehand. This is a good idea for multiple reasons. A) You won’t be as hungry at the tailgate and can therefore keep from stuffing your face with hot dogs and chip dip (especially after drinking, when your judgement is altered – I’ve been known to smash and entire thing of chips and salsa. B) It’s ALWAYS a good idea to fill up before you start boozing. Choose something that has a good balance of carbs, protein and fat to nullify the effects of the alcohol, and plenty of cleansing water-heavy veggies (think cucumbers and peppers) to keep you hydrated.
- Stick to veggies. Ok, this isn’t always possible, but in my experience, most tailgates at LEAST have a veggie plate (skip the ranch dressing…EW!) If you feel the need to snack while at the tailgate, veggies or fruit will be your best bet. Dip the veggies in salsa or guacamole (common tailgating necessities) to make things more exciting.
- Bring your own food! Bring celery or your favorite healthy chips and salsa or hummus and pita to share with the group. That way, you aren’t tempted to snack on the more fattening options AND you are contributing to the tailgate. Or, choose one of these healthy gameday desserts from Chocolate Covered Katie.
- But what about beer? I’m obviously not an advocate of beer – it’s heavy, full of gluten, and high in calories. If you’re anything like Jamie and insist on going with beer at a tailgate, stick to a light variety. I prefer hard cider (Julian’s is my fave) or champagne, preferably one that doesn’t contain added sugar. That way, you still get the carbonation you crave from beer, but avoiding the bloat that wheat inevitably brings.
And, as always, don’t forget to hydrate! My mantra is 1 drink to 1 glass of water.
So there you have it – all the tools you need to tailgate without derailing your health goals. I wish all your teams the best this season, unless you are a Packers fan or root for the UW Huskies..