Are You Ready For Some Football?

football_cFootball season is back, and you know what that means. Time to grab your jersey and cheer your favorite team while grabbing some munchies during the game.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) says you can keep your tailgate party or football-watching bash healthy by making a few simple, healthy swaps.

We all love football and tailgating, but unhealthy fats and calories can pile up quickly. By making a few healthy swaps, you can enjoy your football fare, and any meal, without sacking your heart healthy lifestyle.

The AHA/ASA recommends making small changes to diet and lifestyle that can add up to big gains in health.

According to the AHA, It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul overnight. Most menus just need a few tips from a new, healthier playbook. A few unhealthy snacks and drinks might not sound like a big deal now, but all those empty calories add up. More than 60 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Poor lifestyle choices today are setting the stage for heart disease, stroke and diabetes tomorrow, which will take you out of the game.

Start by “eating the rainbow” to increase your fruit and veggie intake on game-day and every day. According to the AHA, if Americans ate the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables every day, approximately 39,900 deaths would be prevented from cardiovascular diseases, stroke and diabetes and $7.6 billion in medical costs could be saved annually. Learn more at

healthy tailgatingThe AHA and ASA offer these healthy tailgating tips:

• Set up your party buffet with the healthiest items first, like salad, cut-up veggies, and low-fat dips made with low-fat sour cream or yogurt, or fruit and vegetable salsas.

• Make healthy appetizers that are fruit & vegetable-centric.

• Place healthy food items in fun bowls or martini glasses all around your party venue. Pinterest has many ideas under “vegetable platters.”

• Watch portions and use small plates to avoid piling up on food and calories, and choose mostly fruits and vegetables.

• Try lean meat or fish, and keep servings to the size of a deck of cards. Try turkey, veggie or salmon burgers on whole grain buns, or just serve on top of salad or quinoa.

• Swap baked chicken breast strips dipped in Buffalo sauce instead of fried wings which are packed with fat. Top a salad with this tangy chicken, shredded carrots and chopped crunchy celery-all of the pub-food flavors and less fat!

• Make chicken chili or toss boneless/skinless chicken breast and a lower-sodium barbeque sauce in the slow-cooker for easy pulled chicken mini-sliders on whole grain buns.

• Make a whole wheat crust pizza topped with mostly veggies.

• Limit chips, nachos and other high-calorie snacks. Create a Mediterranean platter with hummus, grape tomatoes, orange bell peppers, cucumbers, roasted zucchini and eggplant, and whole wheat pita chips for a tasty and healthy game snack.

• Serve healthy guacamole with baked whole grain chips or veggies instead of salty/fatty chips or atop veggie burritos on soft, whole grain tortillas.

• Score extra points when dessert is fruit salad or kebobs, individual fruit and yogurt parfaits, or dark-chocolate dipped strawberries!

• Drink plenty of water. You may think you’re feeling hungry, but you may actually just be dehydrated. Reach for sparkling water with fruit wedges instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, or add to juice for lower-calorie fruit sangria. Alcoholic drinks can pack on the calories, so drink in moderation.

• Avoid mindless nibbling during the game. Plan fun activities, like flag football, that get people active.

Looking for more healthy tips for your next football bash? Visit

football_bJessica DiMeo is the senior regional director of communications for the American Heart Association on Long Island.

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