Fall is here and that brings Husker Football and tailgating! There are few things people look forward to as much as seeing the games and spending time tailgating with friends, family and the whole Husker Nation.  I am not originally from Nebraska, but it didn’t take me much time to adopt and appreciate some of the many great traditions surrounding Husker athletics and what it means to our communities and our people.  It’s part of what makes Nebraska “the good life” for me.

On the same subject, one of the common questions I get from people I train or those working in one of our wellness programs is:
“How can I avoid gaining weight from tailgating and all the extra food?”

So if you want to enjoy tailgating without feeling like you have to choose between munching on a rice cake or ending up wearing the bigger pants that we all hide in the back of our closet, here are some tips to make the most out of it:

• Eat before you go:  by eating at home before you go you are more likely to pick something at least vaguely healthy.  Then you can snack at the tailgate and not worry about it vs. showing up super hungry and gorging on everything.

• Drink a couple bottles of water:  before you go, down a couple bottles of water.  This helps fill up the room, makes sure you are hydrated and can make sure the extra “adult beverages” don’t sneak up on you too fast.  For extra points drink more water throughout the tailgating and game…..we’ve all seen people go down at games because of the heat, so be smart!

• Go for the protein:  when tailgating and really hungry, be sure to go after some protein first instead of just continuous snacking on chips etc.   One of the problems with chips and carbs are that they don’t really fill us up, so we keep eating and eating.  Protein helps us to feel more satisfied, so go after the hamburger or chicken or yes even the hotdogs…..these will all do the job better than chips and pretzels.

• Grab some vegetables:  throw in some extra vegetables when you can while munching.  These help fill you up, have very low calories, and have a ton of other benefits.

• Avoid the umbrellas:  when choosing the adult beverages, there are lots of good choices.  We’ve all heard that a glass of red wine is good for the heart, but the reality is most tailgates aren’t doing wine.  So what else is there?  If you go for light beers, clear alcohols such as vodka, and wood aged spirits such as some scotches and whiskeys then you will be ok.  Avoid fruity, sugary specialty drinks (you know the ones normally with umbrellas) because they can contain an unbelievable amount of calories.

• Drink a couple bottles of water:  yes I know I already said this.  But drink a couple more after tailgating.  Dehydration from the heat, activities, alcohol, etc. can be hell on our metabolisms.  So, down some more water just to be sure to keep the calories burning and the body healthy!

These very simple tips can make all the difference in the world without sacrificing our enjoyment.  So don’t worry about the tailgating, just do it smart!

For additional information on Health, Safety and Wellness contact Jeff Dousharm at JDousharm@windstream.net.