Football season is in full swing! Hopefully your team didn’t let you down last weekend with the start of the regular season. If your team lost and you feel crushed, try to be optimistic in the following weeks. Isn’t that part of the thrill of it all? The ups and the downs. The close ones and the not so close ones. The anticipation of the next week, heck the next play! Yes, football season brings fun and excitement that both are beyond words but it also brings sitting and food, as a matter of fact, LOTS of sitting and LOTS of food which can pose quite a challenge to our weight loss or weight maintenance efforts. I mean between college games on Saturday and NFL games on Sunday not to mention high school games on Friday who has time to exercise and eat right?! Well you can if you just plan ahead.

  Here are some tips to help you engage in healthy behaviors while still being able to enjoy all that this season brings!

  1. Schedule a time to be active. No, jumping up in excitement and then sitting back down doesn’t count-well maybe a little but it isn’t enough. Look at the weekend’s schedule of games and find times where you can hit the road for a walk or grab a quick bike ride with the family. (This may mean deciding which games you can live without watching.) The weather this time of year is too nice to spend all day inside. Get outside and enjoy. It doesn’t have to be structured activity either. We are counting down the days until fall in my house. So start up your own game of football, play tag, jump in the leaves.  You can even give those outdoor chores a bit of a kick by performing them more intensely.
  2. Kill two birds with one stone. Be active while watching the game. Hit the gym during game time and watch it while you workout.  Or if you are at home, do strengthening or flexibility exercises during the commercials.
  3. Know what you are eating. Whether tailgating, having friends over, or just watching the game by yourself there is usually some sort of “game food” present.  This is part of what makes football season so great so don’t feel as though you have to deprive yourself of these experiences but you should be prepared.  Become knowledgeable about the approximate calorie amounts and portion sizes of your favorite foods so that you can account for them.  Hear are some typical examples:
    Pizza-one slice of cheese pizza from a 14 inch pie is approximately 270 calories.  

    Guacamole-50 calories for 2 tablespoons. But do you ever stop at just 2 tablespoons?  I like to take a substantial scoop per chip so for one chip I probably have t tablespoon of guacamole. Chips-Depends on the flavor. Basic potato chip about 160 calories for 15 chips but nacho-flavored chips, about 150 calories for 11 chips.

    Chips and Salsa-In this combination a large amount of the calories come from the chips not the salsa.  Two tablespoons of salsa is only about 10 calories but 14 tortilla chips are about 140 calories.

    Wings-Some consider this the ultimate football food. But they bring the ultimate calories. Six wings is about 670 calories and this varies depending on the sauce. Dip these wings in 2 ounces of ranch dressing and you have added 300 calories! 

    Hot dogs-For a 4 ounce hotdog in a bun with ketchup it is about 315 calories. All beef hotdog and wheat bun are about 200 calories. Don’t forget that the other toppings can add up though. 

    Chili-1 cup of chili without toppings is about 200 calories. This will change drastically depending on the addition of toppings like cheese, sour cream, chips, etc. For example, adding just 1 once of shredded cheese (about the size of you thumb) adds an additional 100 calories. This will vary too on the type of meat you use in your chili and if it is made with beans or without.

    Beer-And of course for many no game is complete without a nice cold one, or two. One can of regular beer is about 150 calories while one can of light beer is about 110 calories.

    So enjoy your football foods but watch the amount you are eating.  You may even think about something you can go without so that you can better balance your calories on game day.  For example, a friend of mine has been able to maintain her weight loss by giving up the 250 calories from 20 ounces of regular soda to enjoy a hotdog at the game.

  4. Try making a healthier version of your favorite football food. Use lean ground beef to make your hamburgers or chili.  Put extra tomatoes and veggies in your guacamole.  Make a homemade pizza.
  5. Fill up on healthy foods before the game. That way you are less likely to overeat during the game. Of course, this only works if you wind up eating less.  If you still eat the same amount of habit, this strategy will not work for you! So football season doesn’t have to mean the end of healthy behaviors after all it takes up about half of the year. With good planning you can still fit in some good behaviors all while enjoying this exciting (and sometimes heart wrenching) time of the year.