Tailgating: To participate in a tailgate party, usually before a sporting event.
Football season means that a lot of you will be going to football games and tailgating in the parking lot before. Tailgate parties are a perfect time to catch up with your old friends and make new ones. But tailgate parties and diabetes don’t always mix. There are a few things you should keep in mind as you gear up for football season.
One of the most important parts of any tailgate party is the food. People come for the friends, but they stay for the food. Tailgate parties always have delicious foods: fried chicken wings, nachos, hamburgers, french fries. Or in other words…. everything that can ruin your glucose levels.
Don’t get swept into the tailgating frenzy. Say no to that football shaped sugar cookie. But don’t think your diabetes is going to keep you on the sidelines of the party. You can still eat the game day food without the game day carbs. If you aren’t the one organizing the party, offer to help bring some food. With a few simple substitutions, you can be MVP of the party.
Replace the tortilla chips with healthier multi-grain chips, or try taking pita bread and making your own chips. Pita bread is a low-fat bread, which makes it perfect for diabetics.
Instead of using fatty ground beef, use lean turkey meat. Most of your friends won’t taste the difference.
Top the nachos with lettuce, a moderate amount of salsa, and a dollop of reduced-fat sour cream. TOUCHDOWN!
If your buddies want to get the grill out, there are ways for avoiding those grilling penalty flags. Instead of fatty meat, put a lean turkey burger on the grill! Slap that in between a whole-wheat bun, add lettuce, tomato, and mustard then enjoy.
Bring a container of your favorite hummus and veggies to substitute for french fries. It’s a great alternative, and everyone loves hummus. You can also enjoy a small bag of baked or kettle cooked chips with your burger.
Most tailgates consist of various beers and mixed drinks. Once again…. everything that can make your blood sugar go out of bounds. Before drinking any alcohol, consult your doctor to assess the risks. But if you are going to drink, there are a couple rules you need to follow:
- Try and limit your alcohol consumption to 2 servings a day.
- Make sure that you never drink on an empty stomach (but with all the delicious food, how can you have an empty stomach?). Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to severe hypoglycemia.
- If you are going to drink beer, aim for the light beers.
- For mixed drinks, choose coke-zero or any other zero calorie drink.
- Drink a lot of water.
Remember that the more you drink, the easier it is to have another. Be mindful of your glucose levels. It is easy to join in the tailgating fun and forget to check you levels.
If you choose to skip the alcohol altogether, bring some delicious alternatives that everyone can enjoy.
- Iced Tea
- Flavored water
- Sodas like Coke-Zero
- Sugar-free lemonade
It is easy to get comfortable in a chair and stuff yourself full of tailgating food. A great way to balance the carbs is by playing a tailgating game or two. Throw a football with your friends, walk around and look at other tailgates, play a fun tailgating game like cornhole, ladder golf, or horseshoes. Even helping clean up can burn off some of the tailgating food.
Don’t fumble your diet because football season is back. Designate someone as your tailgating referee. Tell them to keep an eye on what you eat and drink. If they see you trying to finish off the rest of the chips or sneak a couple extra cookies, they can throw the flag on you. This is a great way to prevent you from eating just because it’s there. If you get hungry again before the game starts or during halftime, some unsalted peanuts or a fruit tray is a great snack on game day.