6 Tips to Tackle Healthy Eating During Playoff Season
It’s game time Kansas City! As we cheer on our Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, let’s not forget to put together a successful game plan when it comes to enjoying our favorite game day snacks. While the excitement of Sunday’s match up may lead to potlucks and watch parties, it can also interfere with your healthy eating goals.
As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Health Coach I focus on helping people make better nutrition choices to improve their health. This playoff season I’m taking a football-inspired approach in honor of our Kansas City Chiefs.
- Fuel up in the pre-game: I frequently hear people say they’re fasting all day to prepare for a heavy meal. While I can understand the logic behind trying to save all your calories for a watch party, it is not the smartest idea. First, being hungry is miserable and this plan leaves you with little to no energy throughout the day.
If you arrive to a party offering treats and alcohol, you are at risk of overindulging since your blood sugar is so low. Next thing you know, you’ve eaten two bowls of chips for “dinner,” your stomach hurts due to the lack of real food and you end up “crashing” wondering what went wrong since you were so disciplined all day. Having small snacks or small meals (with protein) before you go to a party will help you stay in the game and make it easier for you to turn down multiple bows of chips, wings or any other tempting items.
- Read the defense: It is always good to know what you’re up against before you start the game. Building your meal is no different. Prior to serving yourself, survey the options and make note of the things you like and don’t like. This helps you leave room for your favorites and prevents you from filling up on dishes you don’t love.
- Manage your playbook: Of course we all have favorites, but you can’t win a game running the same play over and over again. The same goes for foods. Balance and variety are so important in building a healthy plate. This gets a little tough at most parties, but consider the plate method and build a plate half full of veggies, a fourth full of protein, and a fourth full of starch or grains. The protein will help balance out the potential for a blood sugar surge that comes with football shaped cookies, and the veggies provide necessary nutrients and fiber to help you stay full longer.
- Stay hydrated: Every good athlete knows dehydration means a decrease in performance. Limit your alcohol intake, keeping in mind that alcoholic beverages pack a lot of empty calories. If you do choose to indulge, drink one glass of water after each alcoholic beverage.
- Support your team like you’d support yourself: You are not the only person trying to stick to your resolutions. Your friends and family will probably thank you for bringing a healthier dish at your next gathering. It can be intimidating to change your routine, turn down the extra cocktail or bring a new dish, but if you know that’s what’s right for you, go for it. Trust me, someone else will thank you.
- No matter what, try your best: Even the best players have off nights. Sometimes we go in prepared, we survey the options and make a plan to create a balanced plate. But one way or another things get out of hand and we don’t follow through the way we hoped. THIS IS OK. Life and celebrations happen, but tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start. Take a deep breath in and forgive yourself. Nobody is perfect. Inhale, exhale, and move forward.
And GO CHIEFS!
Claire Walsh, MS, RD, LD, CHC is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.