Guide to Healthy Tailgating (at Home)

Football season is here! But do you feel that tailgate food isn’t lining up with your health goals? You’re not alone. Social events surrounding food can be really stressful. But, armed with some tips to help you combat mindless munching, tailgates can become fun again!

Munch Mindfully

Part of the reason we often overeat at social events is that we are multitasking. If you are having a conversation right next to the chip bowl, you’re much more likely to keep reaching for a bite even if you’re not really hungry. Keep your conversations away from the spread. If you feel you need to keep your hands busy, hold a drink and sip slowly (My favorite low sugar options are: Vodka soda with a splash of real cranberry juice, a dry red wine, or for a non-alcoholic option try soda water with some fresh lemons and limes). Or, download our guide for a HealthyHappyHour for some of our other favorites!

Allow Treats in Moderation

You needn’t feel that you are doomed to munching on celery from now until the Super Bowl. Denying yourself a special treat will only make you feel deprived and may lead to overeating episodes later.  Before you indulge, ask yourself where your craving is coming from and check in mentally. Taking the time to identify your craving and its source will stop you from acting on an impulse. When you do allow a treat, make sure you really take the time to savor each bite. If you wolf that brownie down in two bites, you’re more likely to reach for another because your brain didn’t get the message that you ate something sweet.

Scope Out “Green” Foods

Find the foods at the party that are your “green foods”, meaning you can eat as much as you want. Think fresh or cooked vegetables, salsa, guacamole or fresh berries or grapes. “Yellow foods” may be meats and cheeses and “red foods” may be candy, cakes, cookies, brownies, heavy sauces or dips, crackers, potatoes or bread based products.

Practice Self-Love

The most important part of learning to navigate social events is to remember to practice self love. If you slip into old habits, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, remind yourself of your humanity, find three things that you love about yourself, and start fresh. Use your small setback to remind yourself of why you’re pursuing your goals and move forward as soon as possible!

Here are some ideas for easy snacks and side dishes to include at your next tailgate!

  • Fruit.  Fruit is a great snack.  Instead of reaching for a bag of chips or candy bar, grab a piece of fruit.  Apples, clementine’s, berries and bananas are great choices.  Not only do they provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, but are also excellent sources of fiber.
  • Nuts and SeedsNuts and seeds are full of fiber, healthy fats and rich in other vitamins and minerals.  This makes for a healthy, tasty snack.  Try  walnuts, peanuts, soy nuts, almonds, cashews, pepitas, sunflower seeds and hemp seeds.  Remember that a serving size equals the palm of your hand.
  • Cut veggies and hummus plate.  Prepare your favorite veggies such as celery, carrots, tomatoes, and broccoli so that when you feel hungry you can grab pre-cut veggies instead of chips!  Try dipping them in hummus or organizing on a plate with almonds, olives and crackers.
  • Popcorn.  Popcorn can be a healthy snack!  For the best option, air pop it yourself in a pot with coconut oil or a small amount of grass-fed butter or ghee is a great option to add some healthy fats!   This can be a much better choice than chips or candy! Add a little nutritional yeast for an extra B6 and B12 punch and with a cheesy flavor!
  • Black bean and corn salsa with tortilla chips.  This tasty snack is full of antioxidants that help fight cancer and other diseases as well as slow down the aging process.  We love the Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips or you can use non-GMO organic corn tortillas!  It is also an excellent source of fiber!  Recipe is below!
  • Buffalo Cauliflower. One of our all time FAVORITES! The smoky buffalo flavor pairs so well with roasted cauliflower, plus you get an extra serving of veggies in your day!
  • Vegan Queso – Dairy not your friend? Now you can still enjoy queso with this cashew and nutritional yeast based version. Dip pretzels, chips or veggies!
  • Holy Guacamole!-who doesn’t LOVE a little guac.  Full of healthy fats and delicious, this is a perfect tailgating snack.
  • Dark Chocolate.  Enjoy a small piece of at least 70% cacao if you are needing to curb a craving.  Dark chocolate does offer some healthy benefits including antioxidants, Magnesium and fiber.  Do mind your portions and try to read labels for minimal ingredients.  Remember, less is more! Our favorite is Alter Eco Blackout Chocolate Bar!
  • Sweet treats. Try some of these healthier options at your next tailgate party! We love our Dairy Free Magic Bars, Walnut Brownie Bites, Grain Free Pumpkin Cookies or these No Bake Peanut Butter Bars 
  • Cheese with whole-grain crackers.   For those that can tolerate cheese, it is a good source of calcium and protein!  Opt for organic cheese when possible. Try a variety of whole grain crackers for more fiber benefits.  Or some great gluten free options include Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers, plain rice crackers or if you are feeling adventurous, try making your own!  We love this Keto Cracker recipe!  If you do not tolerate dairy well or do not eat by preference, there are plenty of options for you too!  We love Treeline cashew cheese, Miyoko’s and Violife!  All great dairy free options.  And there is always the option to make your own.  We are a big fan of Full of Plants Hickory Smoke Vegan Cashew Cheese!



Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 11-oz can non-GMO corn, drained and rinsed

1 red pepper, chopped

1 orange pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

¼ cup red onion, chopped

1 T  fresh lime juice

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

3 T red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

3 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl.  Serve with tortilla chips or over top grilled chicken, pork, fish, baked potato or a salad! Is excellent wrapped in a tortilla with hummus too!

Serving Size ¼ cup


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print
  • All
  • Diabetes Program
  • Exercise
  • Food Sensitivities
  • General Information
  • Gut Health
  • Inflammation
  • Nutrient Spotlight
  • Recipes
  • Uncategorized

Welcome To Our Blog!

My name is Rita and I am a registered dietitian, founder of RED Dietitians! I love food and have a passion for good, wholesome nutrition …

Read More →

Eat Local

Today people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of eating local. Why? Well, for several reasons. One, it is important to support …

Read More →

Understanding GMOs

Being aware of where your food is coming from is quite important these days.  Our food supply has drastically changed over the past several decades.  …

Read More →
Scroll to Top