Nutritionist Kristin Morrow, RD, LDN, CDE of Nutrition Counseling of Doylestown Hospital shares some game-day strategies and food for thought.
It's an American tradition. And for many of us, enjoying a game at the ballpark includes another of our favorite past times – eating.
While taking in nine innings it's also easy to take in way too many calories and too much fat, sugar and salt. But there are ways to hit a home run with healthier eating at the big game.
Before the First Pitch
"Try to get to the ballpark early and eat before the game starts or within the first inning so you can focus on eating before the game heats up," Kristin says.
"If you're hungry again later, take advantage of the break with the seventh inning stretch to get some whole fruit, beef jerky, a kid's sized (smaller portion and cheaper) whole grain pretzel or popcorn box, or some trail mix now offered at many ballparks," adds Kristin.
You can also scout healthy options before you take yourself and your family out to the ball game. Check out Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, and map out your plan. Not sure how many calories are in certain foods? Check out the USDA's Food-A-Pedia for more info.
At Citizens Bank Park they still serve ballpark classics and South Philly favorites, but a few rookie items have joined the team. "Over the last several years, ballparks have added healthier options," says Kristin.
At Philly Phresh (behind section 183) you can get salads, wraps, parfaits and fruit. Other vegetarian options are scattered around the ballpark and include vegan hot dogs (sections 128, 206, 318) and vegetarian black bean burgers (sections 128, 206, 318).
In addition to the traditional Philly cheesesteak at Campo's, you can get a veggie cheese steak or veggie chicken steak. Planet Hoagie has vegetable hoagies and salads. Several locations feature gluten-free options.
Interesting fact: Citizens Bank Park was voted the No. 1 Vegetarian Ballpark by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for six out of the last seven years.
Bring your own
If you're heading to a big ballpark like Citizens Bank Park, there are certain items you are NOT allowed to bring in: alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, cans, hard sided and Styrofoam coolers, thermoses and open containers.
But, you can bring a bag (that will be screened upon entry) with healthier snacks. Kristin suggests plain popcorn, sunflower seeds, fresh fruit…you get the idea.
You'll be saving calories in addition to a few bucks.
Some Ballpark Eating Strategies
- Don't go heavy on the toppings when it comes to hot dogs; choose mustard and maybe some relish or sauerkraut
- Choose a grilled chicken sandwich over a cheeseburger
- Keep an eye on portion sizes; plain, unsalted peanuts are a good choice, but a typical 8-ounce bag is way more than one serving and can have more than 800 calories
- Focus on what you're eating and don't snack mindlessly
A Word About Mindful Eating
"Being more mindful involves tasting the food, savoring the flavor, and chewing well without being distracted" says Kristin. "This will leave you more satisfied, eating the amount your body needs, rather than eating larger portions and excessive calories because your mind is in the game and not in the meal."
Also, think about what you drink.
Kristin says it's important to stay hydrated with plain water throughout the game. "Alcohol and sweetened beverages can increase your body's water requirements," advises Kristin. "Drinking plain water can keep your body from confusing thirst with hunger and keep your mind sharp enough to make wise food choices when it's time to eat."
About Nutrition Counseling of Doylestown Hospital
Nutrition Counseling of Doylestown Hospital offers personalized nutrition plans for those with a current medical condition or those interested in preventive health and weight loss. Doylestown Health Nutrition Services specializes in nutrition therapy for diabetes, weight management, cardiovascular disease, digestive and eating disorders, pregnancy, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
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