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6 Healthier Ways to Enjoy Football and Tailgating Season

For many people in America, the change in seasons from summer to fall signifies football season. This is a time to root for the home team, cheer on your favorite players, and embrace the highs and lows of professional sports with fellow fans. But unfortunately, football games and the tailgating activities that happen before and after the games aren’t typically the healthiest ways to spend your weekend.

So, to help you enjoy the games without sacrificing your wellness, here are a few ways to have a healthier football and tailgating season this fall.

Photo credit: Ryan Stavely via Flickr

1. Bring Healthy Snacks

Chicken wings, chips and dip, and hot dogs might be tailgating staples, but there are better ways to fuel your body for an exciting game of football. Don’t show up to a tailgating party on an empty stomach because this is a surefire way to overeat and have regrets later. Make easy food swaps that are still delicious and satisfying, such as carrot sticks instead of chips and hummus instead of ranch dip. Roasted cauliflower can replace chicken wings when cooked with hot buffalo sauce, and spiced edamame is a protein-packed finger food that’s an easy tailgating favorite.

2. Prevent Food Spoilage

In addition to packing healthier foods, another issue to keep in mind is food spoilage. If you leave foods that require refrigeration out in the sun too long, you could end up with a nasty case of food poisoning after the game. Toss these foods into the trash if they’re sitting out in the heat and not consumed within an hour or two.

Photo credit: slgckgc via Flickr

3. Limit Alcohol Intake

It’s easy to get into the celebratory mindset when you’re watching the game with friends or tailgating in the stadium parking lot. This often means having a few too many beers, wine coolers, or mixed drinks. However, alcohol will make you dehydrated and maybe even cloud your judgement when it’s time to make important decisions, such as whether to drive home after the game or call for a ride. Always drink a glass of water or two between alcohol beverages to stay hydrated and prevent hangovers.

4. Drink Lots of Water

Staying hydrated is your key to tailgating success to help counteract the effects of any alcohol or processed foods you consume, as well as prolonged sun exposure. Just bringing a bottle of water to your tailgating party might not be enough. Instead, bring a couple large jugs of water to help your friends and loved ones stay hydrated too.

Photo credit: Bradley Gordon via Flickr

5. Use Sunscreen

Even though the hottest and sunniest days of summer may be behind us, there are still plenty of opportunities for sunburns during football season. If you plan to be outside all day, make sure to protect your skin with natural sunscreen that will help prevent against burns and skin damage.

6. Play the Game Yourself

Last but not least, we recommend being an active participant in football season and not just a spectator. Get into the spirit of the game by throwing a ball around in the yard or running a few plays with your friends. If tackling isn’t your thing, get active in some other way on game day, such as going for a jog before the game starts, heading out for a walk at halftime, or doing stretches during commercial breaks. Even just going for an occasional walk around the parking lot while tailgating will help you digest your snacks, get your heart pumping, and boost your energy in case the game runs later than expected.

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