Are you ready for some football food?
You better be, because tailgate season is here! Whether you head to the stadium to tailgate, watch the game at home, or ignore it altogether, this is the time of year when food comes front and center in grocery store displays, television commercials, and of course, on the bbq grill. Some approach this time with open arms, ready to be reunited with their favorite game foods. Others, though, take a deep breath and get ready for a test of will power. So many fall events are centered around food, and if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, it can be a challenge. So, here is my playbook for the upcoming tailgate season, and coming out as a winner.
Plan Your Offense
Pull out last year’s tape and review your strengths and weaknesses to make a plan. Are there certain foods or drinks that sacked you last year that you need to avoid? Make a plan before arriving at the tailgate party for not only what you will not eat, but what you will. Traditional advice like bringing a veggie tray or other low-calorie dish to share is a great strategy, and online recipe sources have plenty of creative ideas for making healthy eating fun. If eating beforehand curbs your appetite and makes it easier to pass on snacks, have a well-balanced meal before you arrive and bring a bottle of water. But that approach does not work for everyone; if you want to indulge, decide ahead of time how you will manage portions, and why it is important to do so.
Be Strong on Defense
Even with a smart and solid offense, a strong defense protects that plan. Remember that bottle of water? Keep it in your hands to make holding a plate of food a bit of a hassle. If you’re anticipating pressure from friends to sample their prized recipes, practice your responses ahead of time. You might feel silly, but that’s okay. You can care enough about yourself to do something silly. And remember, no one needs an explanation for why you eat what you eat. A simple, “thanks, but I’m good,” is a perfectly perfect response to unwanted offers of food.
Be Ready for an Interception
Of course, there will be times when none of that works, and you get intercepted. It happens, even to the pros. When you realize you screwed up, do what any champion does: figure out where your weakness was, patch it up, and get back into the game a little more alert and aware. Setbacks happen, but winners don’t make the same mistakes often.
I don’t care what the ref says, when you get through a food-central social event without regret, that deserves a victory dance. Celebration is important, because living healthfully should be rewarding and fun, and the more often you are able to connect healthy living with a sense of achievement and reward, the more likely you are to repeat the process. Give yourself every compliment in the book. Don’t hold back! You deserve to feel like an MVP when you do push yourself to the next level.
Have I used enough football analogies to make my point?
You’re in the game whether you want to be or not! When tailgate parties lead into Halloween temptations, then Thanksgiving right around the corner and quickly followed by a parade of holiday sweets, we’ve all stared down a table of food and broken the promises we swore to keep. Well it’s a new season now, and all of the polls predict that you have what it takes to be undefeated.
About This Blog
Each week, I write the "Healthy Heather Blog" in the Tallahassee Democrat. It is republished here in case you are not a subscriber (what???). Sometimes it is really good and other times it is just okay. Thanks for reading it regardless of your opinion!