7 Tips For Healthy Tailgate Food

healthy tailgate food

Tailgating Season is Here

As fall approaches, we are starting to break out the sweaters, leaf blowers, and polishing up the snow shovels – sounds friggin terrible honestly… For many of us, this also means it’s time to get ready for tailgating. I’m like a kid going to a candy store when it comes to tailgating at my alma mater – excited, nervous, can’t stop talking about it and the person in charge of me is usually annoyed (sorry honey)!

From the NFL to college football, tailgating primetime also means you are crushing a ridiculous number of calories every weekend – we’ve all been there…

Healthy Tailgating

Tailgating is all about supporting your team and having a blast while hanging out with your buds. Who wants to drink nothing but water and eat carrots doing that?

While you don’t have to act like a rabbit during the entire tailgate (beer and tailgates are like peas and carrots – they just go together), here are a few tips to help make sure you don’t “bust a gut” rooting for your team!

1. Grilled Not Fried

Tailgating FriedFried chicken, fried mushrooms, fried snickers (yeah… it’s a thing), fried everything it seems like the majority of the foods at your tailgate might be fried.

As you know, while they are delicious they might not be the best food choice especially in terms of fat consumption. Instead, make sure you take the grill and BBQ the majority of your foods which will help save you calories and fat.

Plus, it’s delicious as well!

2. Stay Hydrated – Correctly

Besides chugging copious amounts of beer (we won’t get into that in this article – that is your deal) we want to stay well hydrated with high-quality H2O. This should be a staple in your everyday life.

What’s the deal with being hydrated? Wellbeing hydrated not only makes you feel more full, but it can improve about every physiological function going on in that inebriated body of yours.

From digestion to fighting fatigue to improving your complexion, staying hydrated is key!

On those hot fall, days make sure to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. This will make sure you beat the heat and stay hydrated!

3. Snack Mixes Are Dangerous

What is one of the staples of a good tailgate? Minus the adult beverages, there is always a massive bowl of snack mix. From Chex mix to puppy chow (the chocolate Chex mix concoction) this stuff can be addictive! While delicious, it is also loaded with sodium and some unneeded calories.

The worst part is, once you start you can’t stop!

Tailgating bbq4. Fruit/Veg It Up

If you still got those munchies between your meals and want to avoid the breaded finger foods, reach for a good old fashion piece of fruit or even kabob.

Veggies and fruit are always a good way to combat hunger by supplying you with a large volume of food/fiber for a small number of calories.

A.k.a. you can crush almost as much as you want without really eating too many empty calories!

5. Watch the Finger Foods

One centerpiece of almost every tailgate is the incredible amount of tasty finger foods…so good! While these are great, constantly nibbling on them from 8 a.m. until game time can create a belly bulge.

Make a point to actually sit down and eat whole meals that will fill you up and decrease the amount of unnecessary snacking you may be doing!

This way you can still stick to your 3-4 meals a day instead of one continuous meal!

6. Chew Your Food

Personally, I eat every meal as if it was my last…even if I’m not incredibly hungry. While this can be a choking hazard it can also cause you to overeat. It takes roughly 20 minutes for your mind to catch up to your stomach and realize you are full. If you are eating really fast, you may actually be full but still, eat another 20 minutes longer until you realize it.

This can equate to that bloating or “stuffed” feeling. You know exactly what I’m talking about. The “I need to loosen a belt loop” stuffed feeling!

So the next time you sit down at the tailgate make sure to chew longer, take your time and maybe even stand up halfway through to let your mind catch up to how full you really are!

Tailgating Beer7. No Keg Stands

Joking – do what you want! I’m definitely not the one to tell you not to drink too much at your tailgate, but if you are serious about controlling and losing weight then you want to keep this in check.

Booze in general is a ton of empty calories that add up quickly on a long, hot Saturday that usually starts at 8 am – that can equate to some serious drinking!


Fall is prime time for a great tailgate time! It’s like Christmas every weekend for the football fans.

It’s all about having fun while not totally killing your diet by making smart food choices.

From simply chewing longer to avoiding the next keg stand, remember that a tailgate doesn’t have to be the end of your nutrition plan!

So for the next few months, when you are out with your buddies remember these easy tips to help keep you on track or at least avoid the belly bulge! Game on!

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Josh is the founder of DIY Active - your at home fitness source! He enjoys blending the latest science and expert advice with health practices to help you exercise smarter at home!
Josh Anderson
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