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Healthy Recipes and Tips for Game Day Tailgating

Football on field

Fall means it’s time for football, but tailgating food choices aren’t always the healthiest. With a few modifications, it’s easy to make healthier choices without sacrificing the game day fun. Whether you are packing a cooler for a tailgating party or watching the game in the comfort of your home, here are a few healthier recipes and tips to keep you on track.

Give these healthier game-day favorites a try, you’ll be sure to love them!



When preparing your own game-winning treats, consider these ways to make your recipes healthier:

  • Use less salt. Try making your favorite dish with half the recommended sodium/salt. Chances are your blood pressure will soar at some point during the game. Do what you can to make sure it isn’t due to your snacks.
  • Switch up your dips. Cheese seems to be a main ingredient in dips found at tailgates. You can reduce the amount of cheese necessary by selecting a stronger flavored cheese, where a little will go a long way. Or try substituting tangy, fat-free Greek yogurt for sour cream.
  • Use healthy oils. When you need oil, use canola, which has nearly half the saturated fat as other oils.
  • Modify sweet treats. If sweets are where you fumble, reduce sugar-crumb toppings. Half the suggested amount is often enough. You can also sprinkle chocolate and nuts on the top, versus mixing into batters, for concentrated flavor.
  • Be mindful of what you eat. Enjoy your food. Taste each bite and pay attention to portions. Who hasn’t been chatting with friends, or watching TV while snacking, only to look down and realize the bowl of chips is now empty and the only hands in the bowl were yours?
  • Don’t skip a meal to “save calories” so you can eat more at the tailgate. Although it seems like a good strategy, you will typically end up splurging, often on calorie-dense and fat-laden foods, and eating more all the way around.
  • Remember to drink water. Some say beer and wine go hand-in-hand with tailgating. Go ahead and treat yourself, but limit yourself to one alcoholic drink for every two glasses of water you drink.
  • Use a small plate and slow down! It can take 20 minutes for the food you eat to be digested enough for the glucose to enter your bloodstream and for your body to register a sense of fullness.
  • Move during halftime. Take advantage of the break in action to take a brisk walk or tackle the stadium stairs. This will also help alleviate any stress that might be settling in if your favorite team is not winning.

As the game clock winds down, celebrate your victories. If you find that over-indulgence was the winner of the day, don’t despair. Tomorrow is a new day and you can embrace it by getting back on track.