Admit it, as soon as football season hits you begin to crave Buffalo wings, French fries, and beer. However, what you are consuming while engaging in football activities may create many penalties for your health. One can even stand to gain a significant amount of weight during football season. According to my rough calculations, football accounts for approximately 550 hours or more including playoffs, within the respective seventeen-week seasons for both college football and the NFL. Those hours encompass Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If you are like some avid football fans out there, then you likely plan your schedules around these days so that you can catch most of the games.

Often times you find yourself at a bar enjoying the games while consuming beer and greasy bar food. Otherwise you are on your couch, probably also drinking beer while munching on chips or some other unhealthy snack. Maybe you are lucky enough to watch the game in person at a stadium, which is notorious for greasy food and beer drinking. Football games are so distracting that they can create a pattern of mindless eating and drinking, decreasing your ability to make healthy food choices.

Incessant mindless eating over a prolonged period of time can take a toll on your health. Think about how you typically feel during football season. Only a few weeks in and people are already reporting symptoms of bloat, decreased energy and an overall feeling of poor health. Needless to say, football activities combined with poor nutritional intake for so many hours will not only increase your waistline, but may also put you in dire health by the end of the season.

If football activities are unavoidable, then it’s important to be mindful of the settings you will find yourself in and to plan ahead, or find some ways to create a sense of balance so as to maintain overall wellness as well as a healthy weight. Here are some tips on how to maintain this balance.

Breakfast: Eat a healthy breakfast, one that consists of whole grains, low fat dairy, fruit and protein. Eating a healthy breakfast is a good start to the day, one that fosters good food decisions early in the day. Eating breakfast will also help avoid putting yourself in a state of starvation which would cause you to binge eat anything in front of you upon arriving at an event.

Pregame: Win with your own tailgate party at home loaded with lots of fruits and vegetables; food packed with fiber that will keep you feeling full longer. This way when you arrive to the bar or game, all the healthy food you ate at home might curb your temptation to indulge in unhealthy offerings.

Menu Planning: If you plan on attending a sports bar, or are actually attending a game, do some menu research earlier in the week. This way when you arrive at the venue you have an idea of some healthier options to choose from.

Water: Drink water at least a half hour before the game starts. Our brains are not very good at differentiating hunger versus thirst sensation. Therefore, sometimes when we think we are hungry, sometimes we really are just thirsty. By drinking water, you can curb your hunger for a little while so that you will be less likely to reach for greasy snack foods. If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure to drink one eight-ounce glass of water per every alcoholic drink. This will help you cut down on the amount of alcohol, as well as amount of calories you could potentially consume. Please drink responsibly and be sure to have a designated driver.

Exercise: Find the time to exercise for at least thirty minutes before game start on specified football game days in order to balance calories in and calories out.

Choose healthier options: Opt for a salad, or instead of the Buffalo wings, munch on the celery that comes with the wings. If you do feel the need to indulge in the wings, cut back on your portion. For instance, if you normally eat ten wings in one sitting try eating only five. Additionally, slowing down your rate of eating can help you reduce your intake of calorie dense greasy foods; take smaller bites and chew longer.

Host the party: If you are hosting game day, then offer plenty of veggie platters. Make your own health friendly dip with low fat ingredients. Choose snack options that are nutrient dense rather than calorie dense.

Alcohol: Drink in moderation and choose light beer. Don’t drink and drive and always have a designated driver with you.

You do not have to allow football season to take a wrecking ball to your health. Challenge yourself to follow some of the suggestions listed. By being mindful about your food choices and planning ahead, you will find your path through football season paved with healthier decisions, while maintaining balance.

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller helps chronic dieters break free of the pain of dieting and get the healthy body they love. She does this by creating a tailored solution that combines three essential ingredients: a healthy non-diet mindset, nutrition education and caring support where people learn to eat based on their physiological signals rather than situational or emotional cues. The result is they lose weight, keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life of guilt-free eating.

Bonnie is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.), Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN) and Certified Diabetes Educator (C.D.E.). In addition, she is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She offers programs for the chronic dieter to achieve long lasting weight loss, for people with diabetes to attain blood sugar control and prevent diabetes complications, and for those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome to identify their food triggers so they can enjoy a symptom free life. Bonnie also treats a variety of other medical conditions, and offers a nutrition program teaching young children how to make healthy food choices.

Bonnie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Food and Nutrition from Queens College and her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from Brooklyn College. She completed her dietetic internship at North Shore University Hospital (formerly Central General Hospital) in Plainview, N.Y.

Get a copy of Bonnie’s Free Guide, “5 Steps to a Body You Love without Dieting” at www.DietFreeZone.com

For more information on Bonnie’s programs, visit www.brghealth.com