Healthy Tailgating

Healthy Tailgating

Football season is here! Finally! With that brings tailgating, lots of food and fun! Fun that can be a bit of a challenge for someone who is trying to manage diabetes, cholesterol or their weight.

Here are some tips to help keep you on track while you have fun.

  • Offer to help organize, or at least bring some of the food, to give yourself peace of mind about your food options.
  • Grill it! Use spice rubs and leaner cuts of meat, to reduce added fats and carbohydrates. Make veggie kabobs with zucchini, peppers, eggplant and onions, to pair with your meat selections.
  • Add a little olive oil and your favorite seasoning and grill the large Portobello mushroom caps. Serve these in place of the meat on a whole grain bun with your favorite burger toppings.
  • Make a veggie stew out of your favorite low carbohydrate veggies to accompany your grilled meat. Using reduced or low sodium broth as your base can be a healthier choice. Add some extra spices for flavor.
  • Skip the bun and serve grilled pineapple or fruit skewers for some healthy carbohydrate options.
  • Choose a healthier dip like salsa, guacamole, hummus or low fat ranch. Use slices of carrot, cucumber and peppers, in place of chips to reduce carbohydrate, fat and sodium.

What about Alcohol?

Whether to have alcohol, or not, can be a challenge. Alcoholic beverages can add extra calories and carbohydrates, as well as raising the triglyceride levels. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Check with your health care team to see if using alcohol is safe for you, based on your health status and medications.
  • Never drink on an empty stomach. This can increase your risk for hypoglycemia, particularly if you are taking blood glucose lowering medications.
  • Check blood glucose levels more frequently to see how alcohol affects you.
  • Effects of hypoglycemia can mimic the effects of too much alcohol. Make sure those around you understand this and are able to check your blood sugar and treat a hypoglycemic event, if needed. Always carry glucose tablets, or something to treat a low blood sugar.
  • Recommendations for alcohol consumption are two (2) drinks, or less, for men and one (1) drink, or less, for women. A drink is considered to be 12 oz. beer, 1 ½ oz. distilled spirits or 5 oz. wine.

Keep it Active!

Plan some pre-game and half-time activities! Anything, from corn-hole or frisbee to flag football, can keep everyone moving to help use up those extra calories and carbohydrates. This will help create a balance for the extra food likely to be consumed. Be sure to have glucose tablets, or something like 4 to 6 oz. juice boxes available to treat a low blood glucose. It’s best to be prepared and not need it!

Bring on the tailgate parties and the football games……We are Prepared!


Tracy Hawthorne, RD, LD, CDE

Tracy is a registered dietitian and program coordinator for the Chertow Diabetes Center at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. A certified diabetes educator, she focuses on helping individuals living with diabetes better understand how to make healthier life choices.