How to Tailgate the Healthy Way


We’ve all tailgated before, and we’ve all come home bloated and regretting some of our food choices. Surprisingly, there are tons of ways to eat healthy at a tailgate and still have a good time!

I’m like you – I love a good tailgate and actually have been known to only tailgate and go home to watch the game on my television. To be honest, I’m not much of a football lover (shh…don’t tell anyone), I’m more into the tailgating part. If you are like me and love to tailgate but also want to make healthy choices, here are several ways to do just that.

  1. Set a goal ahead of time and stick to it. How many times have you gone to a tailgate before and said, “I’m not going to pig out this time!”? I’ve said that before, and I end up eating my fair share of junk food. Make a concrete goal ahead of time instead! For example, “I am only going to have one drink today and not eat any fried foods (bye bye, Bojangles fried chicken).” Setting a goal puts it in your mind, and you are more likely to stick to it if it’s a specific goal.
  2. Remember that tailgating isn’t all about the food. Yes, tailgates do have tons of delicious food, and that’s usually the centerpiece of the celebration. However, tailgating is about friendships and connecting with each other over a shared love for a sports team. Put more emphasis on having a good time with conversations and games instead of hovering over your plate.
  3. Drink more water. In general, the more water you drink, the fuller you are. Sometimes we mistake dehydration for hunger. For every non-water drink you enjoy, make sure you drink 12 ounces of delicious H20. Yes, this may mean heading to the port-a-johns more often, but that’s okay. Just make sure you have extra hand sanitizer!
  4. Eat ahead of time. Don’t starve yourself all day to prep for a tailgate. You end up gorging on thousands of calories at the tailgate when you have not eaten all day. Eat a healthy meal ahead of time, so you don’t show up hungry. Make sure your meal before the tailgate is well balanced with protein, fat, and carbs. If I am going to an afternoon tailgate that starts at noon, I like to have a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, a piece of peanut butter toast and an apple. Then, I’m full for hours and don’t inhale the tailgate food like it’s going out of style.
  5. Eat healthy at the tailgate to save up for one treat. Identify what you do want to indulge in and have one serving of that. For me, that’s always a cheesy dip. I try to eat as healthy as possible but then really savor my cheesy dip for my splurge.
  6. What do I actually eat? Identify the non-fried and non-cheesy foods at a tailgate and gravitate towards those. Offer to bring a healthy side to the host of the tailgate! I usually bring hummus and vegetables because most people love that and it’s a healthy option for me. Fruit skewers drizzled in honey is a great option and is refreshing during the warmer tailgate months. Chili is another healthy option if not loaded with cheesy toppings.
  7. Play games! Try not to stand around and hover over the buffet at your tailgate. Step away from the buffet and play games! If you’re congregated over the food, you will likely eat more. Examples of games to play: throw a football or baseball, participate in corn hole or engage in redneck golf.