Melanie’s MVP Football Foods

Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass picks her least offensive football foods.

It makes trying to find the “healthiest” thing at a football game a bit challenging, right? Any food greater than 30% fat (or more than 3 grams of fat per 100 calories) is a digestive burden – and puts your cardiovascular system at risk.

But in the real world, we go to games. We get hungry. And we eat.

To put things in perspective, the worst offenders at a football game (nachos, giant popcorn, funnel cake) serve up:

– 800 to 1100 calories
– a full days supply of sodium (*popcorn and nachos,    1500 – 1700 mg)
– a full days supply of fat (50 – 60 grams)

However, if the reality is that you WILL be eating stadium food at some point this fall, then here are 5 top picks (the least offensive/harmful choices) from the usual “stadium” fare:

Player 1: Hot Chocolate
Calories: 226
Fat: 2 grams (9%)
Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 300 mg
Calcium: 90 mg

Player 2: ½ a Soft Pretzel
Calories: 244
Fat: 1.7 (6.3%)
Sugar: 15 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 278 mg

Player 3: ½ a Small Bag of Popcorn (4.5 cups)
Calories: 286
Fat: 17.5 (55%)
Fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 500 mg

Player 4: Hot Dog
Calories: 250 – 450
Fat: 12 – 21 grams (40%)
Protein: 8 – 16 grams
Good source of protein

Player 5: Churro
Calories: 326
Fat: 15 grams (41%)
Sugar: 6 grams
Fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Good blend of fat/fiber/carbs

The best, best, best option? Skip the stadium food and try these easy tricks to make your next game a win… for your health!

1. Pick ONE item to eat during the game.
2. Share your food with 1 – 3 people
3. Drink water or diet beverages
4. Eat slow & mindfully
5. Bring treats from home, fill (1) sandwich-size Ziploc bag

Eat a light meal before you go to the game. Then you can enjoy one snack of choice during the game. Be sure to order/bring a sensible portion size for whatever snacks you decide to enjoy during a game; having a huge bag of popcorn or treats sitting in front of you during a game is a recipe for disaster—you’re likely to mindlessly eat due to distraction. And mindless eating is the worst because we end up eating more calories than anticipated and we likely don’t even enjoy it because we’re not paying attention to what goes into out mouth.

Lastly, compromise a bit… these small “deals” you make with yourself can save loads of calories and hours of exercise:

– if you want a hot dog, skip any dessert-type item    (keeps fat intake from going through the roof)
– if you want to eat popcorn, share it and only eat 2 –    3 kernels at a time
– if you want an cold beverage that has sugar (like    regular soda pop, fruit drinks, shaved ice, etc), then    skip out on eating a dessert-type item
– Overall: slowly eat small portions of any food you    purchase
– If you bring treats from home, like a bag of    mini-candy bars or licorice, only bring enough to fill    a small ziploc sandwich bag; don’t bring the whole    giant package. This will force portion control.

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