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How to Eat Healthy While Having Fun

Even though it’s not really feeling like Fall in South Carolina it’s still football season. And last weekend, like many other South Carolinians, we were invited to a college football game and sat in the President’s Box. A fancy tailgating party, so tospeak.

It was an exciting game…our team won in overtime. But aside from the excitement of the game, I noticed something else…. the food. Our host told us he had recently changed caterers and asked what we thought.
To my dismay, there were only a couple of healthy options: vegetables with ranch dip and a fruit tray with cheese.Just because it’s football season doesn’t mean you must throw out healthy options and pack on the pounds. In fact, there are a lot of things you can do to keep the tailgating and other parties fun and flavorful. Here are some helpful tips from the American Heart Association:

The Meats
No tailgate is complete without a pile of meat on the grill. Just be mindful of which ones you’re firing up. Choose lean or extra-lean beef burgers, and keep the patties to the size of a deck of cards. Or try turkey burgers or salmon burgers, which are tasty and give you the essential omega-3 fatty acids your body needs. If you crave the traditional fried wings, try replacing them with grilled chicken breast strips tossed in a small amount of your favorite sauce.
But selecting the proper meat is not the only healthy choice. Be careful about how you season it. Go easy on the salt, and throw in some chopped onions or extra pepper to spice things up. Choose 100 percent whole-wheat buns or make a lettuce wrap. Or you can cut your burger in half and have just one side of the bun.

The Sides
At many football parties and stadium parking lots, there’s no shortage of chips or fries stacked high with chili, cheese and whatever else you can think of. However, tempting they may be, you can fill up (and feel better later) by nibbling on vegetables throughout the game party. “Load up on the veggies!” said Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a volunteer for the American Heart Association. “Have vegetables for dipping rather than chips. Serve plenty of salsa and bean-based dips rather than other high-calorie dips.”Skewers are also a fun and flavorful way to snack. Load them up with onions and peppers, or throw some corn on the cob or zucchini on the grill.

The Drinks
Beer and full-calorie sodas are usually plentiful at football parties and games. If drinking alcohol at games, just remember to use moderation.”Try not to overindulge on alcoholic beverages,” Johnson said. “Too much beer, wine or liquor impairs judgment and can cause us to eat more.”If you do get a beer at the game, select one with the least amount of calories and carbohydrates.For those who choose to drink alcohol, the American Heart Association recommends limiting to an average of one to two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.)As far as soda goes, you’ll usually find no-calorie options. Water is the best choice, though, especially at games early in the season where dehydration is a concern. If you want a little more excitement then just plain water, throw in some fresh fruit to give it a refreshing taste. I also like the naturally flavored sparkling waters that are easy to find in grocery stores.

Tailgating Do’s and Don’ts
Choose your sides in moderation. Try to make sure your plate is colorful, with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Drink lots of water. You may be feeling hungry, but you may just be dehydrated, so remember to drink plenty of fluids, especially when it is hot.
Remind yourself to only eat if you are hungry – not just for something to do at the game. It may help to keep track of everything you eat. You don’t necessarily need to write it down but keep a mental tabulation.
And most of all relax, have fun and enjoy being outside with family and friends. By being aware and enjoying the present moment, you will feel better the next day too.

I will be speaking at the FemCity Charleston Around Town Social: Sip n’ Spa on October 19th about “5 surprising secrets to lasting weight loss, even if you have no willpower and hate dieting & exercise.”
If you are interested in attending this event…click here!

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