Retrofit Blog



November 7, 2014
healthy tailgating

Football season is a time to spend with your family, friends, and fellow sports fans, enjoying the fall weather and warm foods. However, it can also be a challenging time to lose or maintain weight. Tailgating and football parties often go hand-in-hand with football season, which also means excess calories and alcohol, both of which can do a number on the waistline. This year, your game day strategy doesn't have to be "All or Nothing".

Follow these Retrofit tips to enjoy the company and the tailgate spread, while staying on track with your healthy goals.

Plan Ahead

The best defense is a good offense. Have a game plan ready! Typically, you have an idea of what food and drinks will be available, and if not, don't be afraid to ask. You might also consider bringing some of your own dishes so you will be well-equipped to enjoy and stay on track.

Be Realistic

As you are creating your plan of attack, stay real with yourself. It is likely unrealistic to say that you will not have any alcohol, snack foods, or dessert, as these are all often the center of any football-themed gathering. Think about compromises and what you love versus what you just like. For example, if you love having a beer or two while watching the game and don't care much about chips or cookies, then you can make a compromise. Choose the beer and enjoy, leaving the chips and cookies for someone else.

Remember The Retrofit Way

Don't use "Game Day" excuses to pass off all of your new habits or goals. While game day might feel like a celebration or a special day, keep in mind that game day is multiple days a week during football season. Therefore, treat each day equally to keep yourself on track. Here are some food "plays" or game day nutrition rules:

  • Don't skip meals or snacks. Stick to your typical eating schedule so you don't become ravenous. This will help you make mindful food choices and keep portions in check. Set an alarm on your phone if needed to go off about every 3-4 hours to make it easier to maintain your regular eating schedule.
  • Stay Balanced. Strive for 50% produce on your plate at your meals and snacks. Pair your produce with protein (and whole grains at meals) to feel satisfied in taste and fullness throughout the day.
  • One Plate Rule. Tailgating and football parties are often set up buffet style, which can lead to mindless munching. Commit to only having one plate of food at each meal. Then step away from the food. Don't eat any food that you don't put on your one plate.

Alcohol Reality Check

Alcohol calories add up fast, especially when you are around such beverages all day at a tailgate party. Planning really comes in handy when it comes to alcohol; otherwise, you could easily drink more than half of your daily calorie needs.

  • Commit to a reasonable number of drinks. It's recommended to have no more than two drinks per day, but three drinks should be your maximum. (Keep in mind, since this is more than the recommended two drinks for a man and one drink for a woman daily plan, you may need to adjust your weekly alcohol intake accordingly.)
  • Choose light or low calorie beer. The average light beer is about 95 calories, whereas a regular beer ranges from 120-150 calories. If you multiply this by two, the difference is even more.
  • Choose no calorie or low calorie mixers with liquor, such as, diet sodas or soda water/club soda.
  • Add fresh fruit. If you dislike the taste of low calorie beers or mixers, add such fruits as lemon, lime, orange, or cherries to your drink. For a salty taste, add an olive.
  • Drink water in between alcoholic beverages.


4 oz Cheeseburger with 1 Tbsp Mayo on Bun = 550 calories
4 oz Grilled Chicken Breast with 1 Tbsp BBQ Sauce on Bun = 350 calories

12 Potato Chips with 2 Tbsp of Dip = 220 calories
Fresh Veggies with 2 Tbsp of Hummus = 70 calories

20 Pretzels = 110 calories
1 cup of Air-popped Popcorn = 30 calories

12 Chips with 1/4 cup Salsa = 160 calories
Radish Slices with 1/4 cup Salsa = 30 calories

Bratwurst with Slaw on a Bun = 450 calories
Chicken Sausage with Grilled Peppers and Spicy Mustard on a Bun = 250 calories

Pork or Beef BBQ Sandwich with Cole Slaw = 525 calories
Pork or Beef BBQ Open-Faced Sandwich without Cole Slaw = 350 calories
Pork or Beef BBQ no Bun with Cole Slaw = 325 calories

Brownie = 225 calories
Cookie = 220 calories
1 cup Fresh Fruit = 60 calories

As the quarterback looks at all of his options before he throws the winning touchdown pass, be sure you look at all of your options before you decide on your game day selections. Yes, you can have fun, and still win on your weight loss journey to success!

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Stefanie Painter Retrofit Registered Dietitian

Stefanie Painter is a weight-loss expert, registered & licensed dietitian, and personal fitness trainer. Her years of experience span across clinical nutrition, foodservice, nutrition education, child nutrition, and weight loss. She’s currently pursuing a Doctorate of Health Education. At Retrofit, Stefanie dedicates her time and knowledge to helping clients develop realistic, lifelong habits to achieve a healthy weight. She helps her clients understand that they each have their own personal needs and paths for success. Stefanie believes there is more than one way to reach your goals, and she will work relentlessly to help you find yours.

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