nfl-footballFootball season is back, and you know what that means!  Time to take out the jerseys, don your lucky socks, get ready to talk some smack and grab some munchies to get ready for the big game.

But let’s be real—can you keep it healthy at a tailgate?  Well, the real answer is: Yes!

If you’re already firing up the grill and throwing some cold ones on ice, you need to check out our playbook to make sure your tailgate equals a touchdown.  No need to bench the chili and wings.  With just a few minor tweaks, your menu can go from second string to starter.

Keeping score: While a few “bad-for-you” snacks and drinks might not sound like a big deal now, all those empty calories add up.  Think big picture. Think the long haul.  Think about avoiding the ‘hail Mary’. Those poor choices today are putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke, our No. 1 and No. 5 health threats.

So, why should you switch out your seasonal favorites in favor of healthier choices?  Simply put, Life is Why.

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association set the scrimmage line with these tailgating do’s and don’ts:

The Do’s:

  • Do choose your sides in moderation. Try to make sure your plate is colorful, with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Do drink lots of water. You may think you’re feeling hungry, but you may actually just be dehydrated.
  • Do reach for sparkling water with fruit wedges instead of sugar-sweetened sodas.
  • Do choose lean or extra-lean beef burgers, and keep the patties to the size of a deck of cards. Or try turkey burgers or salmon burgers, which are tasty and give you the essential omega-3 fatty acids your body needs.

The Don’ts:

  • Don’t eat if you’re not hungry, just for something to do at the game.
  • Don’t grab fried wings. Try replacing them with grilled chicken breast strips tossed in a small amount of your favorite sauce.
  • Don’t keep chips, nachos and other high-calorie snacks around.  For a crunchy snack, try cut veggies with hummus, salsa or other low-fat dip.
  • Don’t overindulge on alcoholic beverages.  Too much beer, wine or liquor impairs judgment and can cause us to eat more.

Looking for more healthy tips for your next football bash?  Visit www.heart.org/GettingHealthy.

Go team!