In most of the country, fall means crisp air, Red Delicious apples and pumpkin-spiced everything, but here in Gainesville, it means football. It’s that sweet time of year when our weekends are filled with nothing but visions of orange and blue, and with football season comes tailgating.
What’s not to love about tailgating? We sport our best Gator gear, toss a few cornhole bags, socialize with friends, and enjoy a wide variety of tasty snacks and drinks. However, when you overdo it on the tailgating snacks, every weekend, for three months in a row, it starts to take a toll on your body.So here are a few simple things you can do to avoid the “football fifteen.”
For starters, it’s always best to eat before the tailgate. Ever heard that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping hungry? It’s the same concept. If you head to the tailgate on an empty stomach, you are setting yourself up for a major binge. Eat a well-balanced meal of protein, fat and carbohydrates before you go. Then if you want to have a snack or two, you are less likely to overeat.
When it’s 90 degrees or hotter, common sense would tell you to hydrate. However, we tend to throw our usual routines out the door on game days. Make sure to bring a water bottle and continue to replenish your fluids as you drink alcohol. The standard rule of thumb is to have one glass of water per every alcoholic beverage. And if you’re looking to one-up the competition, try adding a pinch of sea salt to your water. This provides minerals like sodium, magnesium and potassium that are lost in our sweat.
As for snacks, be sure to bring your own just in case there are no healthy options at the tailgate. From the time we leave our house, head to the game and head home, we will be out for six or more hours. Therefore, it’s a great idea to pack snacks so you aren’t stuck eating pizza, pretzels or nachos all day. Some of our favorite portable, on-the-go snacks are Larabar, Rx, jerky, unsweetened dried fruit and raw nuts.
As far as drinks go, there are definitely ways to make better choices. As a rule, try to avoid sugary mixers that come with liquor. For example, go for fresh lime and a splash of club soda instead of a standard margarita mix. Fresh fruit and club soda add very little sugar, and a lot of flavor to your cocktail.
For the easiest trick of them all, move your body! It’s so easy to hit 10,000 steps on game day. We typically end up walking a mile just to get to the game. If you’re bouncing between tailgates, you will definitely end up racking up the miles. But walking isn’t the only way to get active. Play cornhole, pass a football, or run around with the kiddos.
Finally, don’t go crazy overthinking it. Throughout the day, periodically ask yourself how you’re feeling, how hydrated you are, how many drinks you’ve had, and if you’re actually hungry or just eating because the food is there. If you know you’re going to indulge on alcohol and treats, it’s best to have a plan and set some limitations. However, don’t go crazy trying to deprive yourself. Stick to the 80/20 rule. Make 80 percent of your day about healthful choices, and then there’s 20 percent wiggle room to indulge on a beer or two. However, you don’t have to indulge just because the food is there.
So enjoy the great company of friends and family, relax, make memories, and most importantly, root for your team during the game.