It’s only 11:00 am, and you can already smell the smoking charcoal grills and hear beer cans popping open around you. The parking lot is packed—tents, chairs, and lawn games are crammed around cars.
It’s tailgate time, where every food is wrapped in bacon and the buffalo chicken dip never ends!
This year, you’re determined to enjoy the game and stick to your health goals. But once your friend starts passing around trays spilling over with cheese-stuffed pigs in a blanket and cowboy nachos, you’re not sure how long you’ll hold out.
Tailgating snacks really couldn’t get any worse. They’re the epitome of crave-inducing American junk food that tastes so good it can sabotage your health goals before you can say “kick-off.”
Not this year!
Today, I’ll teach you how to tailgate hard without taking on all the unwanted health consequences. It just takes 5 steps to have a healthy tailgate so get ready to win this weekend.
Before you pull up to the parking lot, fill up on fluids. Water is critical to all our body’s functions. On a normal day, water brings many health benefits, like boosting our energy and brain function, flushing toxins, and promoting weight loss.
When a tailgate is in your near future, water will be the ingredient you shouldn’t live without. Yard games and activities, standing in the sun for hours, and sipping a few drinks of your own will add up and cause dehydration. Without water to flush through our systems, we can end up bloated, lethargic, and even hungover post-tailgate.
So, open the floodgates and keep the water flowing. Get a head start and drink several glasses of water before you arrive. Bring a gallon jug with you so that you can stay hydrated throughout the day. Load up on electrolytes to keep your levels balanced and your energy high and make sure to drink a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage that you have.
At a tailgate party, it’s a lot easier to think about beer, hotdogs, and mozzarella sticks rather than fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It’s not easy to keep your macros balanced while tailgating, so set yourself up for success by eating a nutritious and satiating meal before heading to the game.
A meal packed with good protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats (like this garlic and honey glazed salmon and sweet potato sheet-pan) will help you stay full and satisfied longer and resist the junk food at the party.
Don’t show up empty-handed. Bring your own healthy tailgate snacks. Toss together a fresh fruit bowl, bring a crockpot of turkey chili, or grab some guac and a bag of grain-free tortilla chips on your way over. If you do venture outside of your own snacks, pick the ones that are heavier in protein than carbs and sugar. Protein will help keep you full and satisfied through overtime.
You might be attending the greatest outdoor cocktail party of your life, and no one’s asking you to sit by yourself sipping a bottle of water. That said, there are several ways you can join in on the fun without going overboard on the beer.
Rehydrate with at least one cup of water between every serving of alcohol. Bring a few cartons of coconut water to replenish your electrolytes. Pick mixers that are low in sugar with better ingredients, like grapefruit juice or sparkling water.
All of us have fallen victim to the All-or-Nothing Mindset—that dieting perspective that makes us go cold turkey on all the foods we used to love; the mindset that makes us throw in the towel and quit trying altogether after we break a rule and eat a Hershey kiss.
At the tailgate, you’ll be much happier (and healthier for the long run), if you adopt the 80/20 rule and enjoy some snacks here and there. Eat those lean kale and chicken salads, skip the beverages, and stay active 80% of the time. Give yourself a break with the remaining 20%.
Enjoy a few tailgate treats that you especially love, but keep your diet balanced. Stick to a serving or two rather than binging on 5 chili cheese hot dogs. Give yourself the freedom to enjoy the food and drinks you love. This way, you won’t end up binging like a college linebacker.
Your long-term health depends more on how you live after the tailgate than what you ate and drank on game-day. Once you’ve had your fill of the fun, jump right back into your normal routine the next day.
Start the next day with your favorite protein-and-produce-packed smoothie. Hop in on your favorite exercise class at your gym or enjoy the fall weather with a long walk.
The people who maintain their weight and live the healthiest aren’t the ones who never let a corn chip pass their lips. They simply return to their healthy lifestyle immediately after a long weekend.
Whatever your regular healthy practices are, get them going right away so that you can stay on track and move forward in your health journey.
Drive up to the tailgate confidently this weekend and keep your head in the game with these 5 health tips. I’m rooting for you!
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If you’re ready to kick your health goals into high gear, you need to join the LEAN program. You’ll learn how to nourish, train, and energize your body and mind with daily accountability and guidance to help you stick with your goals.