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Tweaking Your Tailgate Menu: A ‘Game-changer’

Filed under: Drinks, Food Events, Sports

If you’re interested in healthier alternatives to traditional game day fare, you may want to assess what you prepare and ingest before you plan your tailgate menus.

According to Jennifer Oswald, a Registered Dietitian/ Certified Dietitian Nutritionist at ECMC, the daily caloric goal for the average person depends on height, weight, age, and sex. Recommended food groups that should make up our diet include, lean protein, complex carbs (e.g. whole grains), fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and healthy oil/fat. This diet will ensure that you keep saturated fat to minimum of <10% of daily calories; based on 2000 kcals, this would equate to 200 calories or less per day.

Miss Oswald devised a chart illustrating common game day food/beverage, estimated total calorie and empty calories found in that specific food.

GAME DAY Indulgence food (Estimated calorie consumption for game day) included:

Type of food Total calories Empty calories Sat fat
Buffalo chicken wings (6 wings) 441 126 8
1 slice pepperoni pizza 250 42 4
Hot dog+bun 253 93 6
Nachos+cheese (2 cups) 362 70 6
French fries (1 ½ C) 252 17 2
Light Beer, 12 oz6 pack 104*624 78*468
1 ½ oz Distilled spirit (80 proof) 96 96
Total: 2278 912 26
unhealthy pizza

Your Standard Tailgate Pizza/Wings

Steve Christie, a former Buffalo Bills Kicker who played in the NFL for fifteen years, said he adhered to a specific diet before a big game. Christie explained that larger meals were often consumed the night before a game. However, pre-game breakfasts for Christie were modest and usually constituted bacon and eggs. Christie attributed his breakfast choice to wanting to remain lithe on the field during a game. He also said that The NFL began to reevaluate what players were consuming around the year 2000 due to Coaches and Nutritionists recognizing that even professional athletes who burned tremendous amounts of calories on a daily basis needed to modify their diets and consume nutritious foods that were lower in saturated fat and cholesterol.

(Moderately) Healthy Pizza Alternative

Healthy Pizza Alternative, Hydraulic Hearth. Photo Credit: Sarah Barry

(Moderately) Healthy Wings Alternative

Wood Fired Wings by ROCCO’s. Photo Credit: Sarah Barry

Jennifer Oswald, R.D./C.D.N. explains, “an NFL Athletes daily caloric recommendation can vary between 4000- 10,000 calories per day (based on a height and weight of the athlete). Dietary recommendations prior to hitting the field comprise lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and low fat and low fiber products. Common pre-performance food include: Eggs, waffles, fruit smoothies, milk (alone or with carnation instant breakfast and/ or protein powder), chicken breast, fish, pasta/rice and vegetables. Unfortunately, game day food for NFL fans are higher in total calories, empty calories and saturated fat than an NFL athletes diet.

If these facts don’t motivate you to explore alternatives to what you cook and consume on game days, hopefully the recipes in this week’s FALL HARVEST issue will inspire you.