Game day party fouls
Some tailgate mainstays may be delicious, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily nutritious. Which ones deserve a flag for unhealthy content?
As much as you’re rooting for them, your favorite fried foods aren’t scoring too many points with Hara.
“Anything fried is going to be a high-fat, high-calorie item,” she says. “So, when possible, you want to go for something grilled or baked instead of fried.”
While you can try making slightly healthier versions of your fried faves at home using an air fryer, you’re better off subbing in completely new dishes to create a more balanced spread.
Instead of french fries, opt for baked potatoes, potato wedges or potato skins topped with Parmesan cheese, low-fat sour cream and a sprinkle of chives. And in place of that bucket of chicken wings, try something leaner, like grilled chicken kebabs or baked chicken tenders with barbecue sauce.
As for those oh-so-snackable potato chips and cheese-smothered nachos, Hara suggests calling in alternates like popcorn, pretzels or a tray of veggies with hummus or salsa.
If the only salad at your game day get-together is something smothered in mayo, then it might be time to rethink your sides.
“Mayonnaise-based things like potato salad and egg salad tend to be higher in fat and can also become a source of food poisoning pretty quickly if they’re left out for more than two hours,” Hara notes.
Good replacements are lettuce-based salads, fruit and veggie platters and hearty-but-healthy options like baked beans or bean soup.
“These are often the types of things that people forget to bring to a tailgate party, but when those dishes are there, people really appreciate having them,” Hara says.
While it’s fine to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two, it’s always wise to set limits. Beer, mixed drinks and even lower-calorie alternatives like spiked seltzer are a significant source of empty calories, Hara says.
“Alcohol is devoid of all nutrients,” she explains. “Scientifically, it’s not even considered a nutrient — it’s a toxin.”
While there’s no way you can make that IPA any healthier for you, there are steps you can take to practice better drinking habits.
According to the national guidelines for low-risk drinking, you shouldn’t consume more than three alcoholic drinks per day if you’re a woman or four drinks per day if you’re a man, so try to be mindful of how much you’re sipping over the course of the game.
At the very least, Hara says, make it a rule to drink a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you have. This helps you pace your drinking and ward off dehydration problems down the line, which contribute to hangovers.
While you may consider pizza the GOAT of your tailgating party — because, honestly, who doesn’t like pizza? — Hara says this mainstay can blindside you if you’re not careful.
The problem, she notes, is that most pizza comes loaded with cheese and greasy toppings.
Rather than sidelining this all-star, though, Hara has a compromise.
“Try cutting your pizza up into smaller slices or squares so they’re hors d’oeuvres size,” she says. “That way, people can limit their portions if they choose.”