PLAY BALL Win the Game with Food Focus

It’s been a long year of lockdowns and quarantine, and many of our favorite activities have been postponed or cancelled. BUT, sports are back, and if you are like me, that’s something to celebrate and enjoy. In my family, there’s almost always a sports program on the tv, and when the big games are on, it becomes a real party. Pizza shows up at the door, bags of snacks get piled onto the counters, and depending on the game, there’s usually some wine or beer. Some of our favorite family memories start out this way!

Watching televised sports has become one of our biggest pastimes, as well as a huge social event for many. Friends and families gather and build traditions around watching their favorite sports teams and EATING. This can lead to some huge challenges for those of us that aspire to live and eat healthy. The typical foods found at most sports parties, and even most stadium venues, are mostly high in fat and calories, and low in actual nutrients. The most popular “sports” foods, according to a quick Google search, are pizza, wings, nachos, chips, dessert foods, and of course, beer and soda. After taking into consideration that the average male needs about 2000 calories a day, and the average female needs about 1600, let’s take a look at what the “average” person might find themselves munching on as they cheer on their favorite teams for several hours each week:

  • 2 slices of pepperoni pizza
  • 6 wings
  • Nachos with cheese and toppings
  • Endless amounts various chips (but let’s say 2 servings)
  • 4 cookies
  • 2 beers (only 2!)
  • 2 sodas

Does that sound about right? Have you found yourself eating this way? I know this happens in my house!

This, my friend, is 2800 calories worth of food-with a whopping 100 grams of FAT. Add a loss by your favorite team, and you might find you had a really bad day!!

Fortunately, there are lots of easy and fun ways to combat this sort of pattern of “sports” eating. Offering healthier options, making it a point to get up and move during the game, and drinking more water can all help curb this crazy intake of calories and fat, and even add some fun to the day.

Sports can get pretty emotional, (I threw a vacuum cleaner down the steps after a bad playoff game once-and my dad broke the bathroom door off the hinges after a bad play when I was a kid…) Sports can also be mind numbingly tedious when nothing really happens inning and inning, quarter after quarter. The emotions, the boredom, the excitement, all lead to mindless eating. Have you ever finished off an entire bag or chips or cookies while engrossed in a tv show? All the sudden, the bag is empty, and you have little memory of even tasting it! This is a huge issue when watching sports. Recognize that, acknowledge it, and make that thought part of your watching plan. 

Some tips for making better choices during your sports and party viewing:

always have healthy options available. Veggie and fruit trays with hummus or lower fat dip are a great start.

choose mustard over mayo on your sandwich or hotdog, and consider skipping the cheese.

cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or fatty meats, and stick to one slice for a very healthy change.

use a smaller plate for your choices, eat slowly, and don’t eat out of giant bowls or packages.

make the decision to only eat at a certain point of the day perhaps at halftime, or during the 7 inning stretch.

instead of pizza, hotdogs or hamburgers, try some grilled kebabs with lean meats, veggies and fruits. 

if you choose to drink, set a limit to 2 drinks, and have a full glass of water before drinking each one. Alcohol and water intake should always be equal!

do a search for some healthy game day snack recipes (there are TONS) and try a new one out each week.

Now, to add some fun to your day! Let’s get up and move, and get everyone involved with fun and exercise!

make some bets with your family and friends, with crazy exercise as the consequence. Your team scores-they have to do pushups, their team scores-you have to do jumping jacks. This can be done with all aspect of the game, even down to ref calls and uniform choices!

get up and move during commercial breaks, long replay decisions, halftime and the 7th inning stretch. March around the house, step outside for some fresh air and take a quick walk around the yard, or even put on some music and dance for a few minutes.

have a themed “party game” available during game breaks-shoot hoops into a wastepaper basket, throw the ball around in the front yard, be creative and have some fun with it!

Above all, remember that this time is for having fun, relaxing with family and friends, and socializing. The food and drinks are just an added attraction to the day, and partaking in a huge feast of food is not a requirement or expectation. Focus on your family and friends, and your team, and have a great and healthy time!

From my website BeeWell.com

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