For many people, fall feels like a fresh start. School is back, summer vacations are over, it’s time to get back into a healthy routine.
Fall is also football season, which for many means weekends filled with game day snacks and tailgates. The food we eat while watching games is a strong part of the football culture, and unfortunately, it’s not exactly a culture known for promoting health.
It’s not only our waistlines that suffer when we eat too many fatty, salty foods. While the calories do add up and can lead to weight gain, certain foods can also cause inflammation and negatively impact gut health. Refined oils such as those used in fried foods, gluten, dairy, and processed snacks can all cause inflammation in the body.
Chronic inflammation can contribute further to weight gain, digestive issues, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Unhealthy foods can also throw off the diversity of bacteria in your gut and encourage overgrowth of a certain type. This further promotes inflammation, and because the gut is connected to the brain, can have negative mental health effects like anxiety and depression.
So when you’re trying to avoid all that and get back into a healthy routine, but it’s just not football without nachos and wings, don’t worry. You can have your health and your football too – it just takes a little forethought and planning.
HOW TO HAVE YOUR HEALTH AND YOUR FOOTBALL TOO
START OFF STRONG
To stay on track during tailgate season, set yourself up for success early in the day. You’ve got a few hours in the morning before the games begin. Use this time to get in a good workout and eat a nutrient-dense breakfast. There’s something about making healthy choices early in the day that sticks with you – you’ve done hard work and won’t want to ruin it!
You can still eat your favorite foods, but with minor, yet intentional swaps you can save a lot of calories and minimize inflammatory ingredients.
Eat them grilled instead of fried to cut down on harmful fat, and use a honey mustard or a BBQ dipping sauce that is lower in calories than blue cheese.
Either skip the bun or try them in a lettuce wrap to avoid some empty calories and inflammatory gluten.
The toppings are a real opportunity here. You could get lean protein and vegetables in every bite if they are loaded up with chicken, chunky salsa, onions, black beans, and avocado!
CHIPS AND DIP
Vegetables are just as crunchy and fun to dip as chips (said no one). Try going one for one – one chip, one vegetable. The more veggies you can eat the better, since the fiber and nutrients in veggies help reduce inflammation and promote a healthy gut. Another option is to choose chips that have been cooked in a healthy oil such as avocado or coconut.
If you’ve got the grill out, try grilling some pineapple rings or peach halves. They can satisfy the need for something sweet without a ton of empty calories or inflammatory sugars.
FAKE OUT TATER TOTS
This is one of our go-to healthy recipes for whenever we’re hosting a party or a tailgate. Never, ever fails.
WHEN COOKING AND DIRTY DISHES AREN’T ON THE ROSTER
If you don’t feel like firing up the grill, chopping, or prepping, tag in Territory for a game day hack. Our Buffalo Chicken Salad (our longest standing and most popular meal) is so full of flavor, you won’t even miss the junk.
Pro tip: order a few, toss them together into a bowl, add some celery and viola. You’ll have a prep free appetizer everyone will love. Take the credit … they’ll never know and we won’t tell.
p.s. we have a Keto version, too.