Football Fans (or not): It’s time to talk tailgating…

Football season is here, and I’ve got the tailgating tips that will help you score the winning touchdown when it comes to fueling well on game day… Football season is here, and I’ve got the tailgating tips that will help you score the winning touchdown when it comes to fueling well on game day…I posted these each Saturday on Facebook last year but thought compiling them in a blog post could be helpful, too.

So…I have one question to ask: ARE YOU READY? [insert Hotty Toddy chant here :)]


Would you expect a football player to wait until right before kickoff to fuel up with a pre-game meal? Should your children “save up” by not eating leading up to a party later in the day? Hopefully, your answer is “NO!”

So why do we do this to ourselves sometimes?

Rather than skipping or skimping on meals leading up to your game day get-together, fuel up with a balanced breakfast (and lunch if kickoff is later) to prevent eating more than your body needs when game-time finally arrives.


Football teams and their fans wear their signature colors on game day, but sometimes our tailgate spreads are neutral colors only…or varying shades of brown. Be the one to bring the color…Asian slaw, succotash salad, or a veggie dish that won’t get soggy over time. Fruit kabobs with a yogurt dip could be a tasty addition, too! Your fellow fans will thank you for adding a festive pop of color to their plates!


A memorable day of tailgating is about much more than the food. Take time to socialize, play corn hole, or watch the Walk of Champions (if you’re an Ole Miss fan like me!). What’s your favorite non-food tailgating activity?


During ‪football games, time-outs are called at strategically important moments. As you’re eating meals, take a “time-out” to check in with yourself…are you still hungry, comfortably satisfied, or stuffed? Use your time-out to reevaluate your “strategy” and to prevent eating more than your body needs. Continue eating if you’re still feeling hungry or not quite satisfied, or move on to more socializing and cheering for your team if you’ve had enough.


Each football player’s position demands different skills and sizes. A running back who needs speed and endurance shouldn’t be compared to an offensive lineman who needs size and strength to perform well in the game. No one position is better than the other!

In the same way, no one body shape or size is better than another….so why do we compare and judge ourselves against others? Focus instead on fueling with foods you enjoy when you’re physically hungry and stopping when you feel satisfied (rather than relying on what someone else may think). Don’t let comparisons to others interfere with your tailgating (or any) fun!


Your plate is your playbook!

Winning ‪football teams study visual representations of all their plays. Serving yourself a plate (rather than grazing) provides a visual representation of the amount you’re eating and could help you ‪eat more mindfully amidst gameday distractions.

Remember: A plate (playbook) + honoring natural ‪hunger and satisfaction cues (skill) = A ‪winning strategy!


During a ‪football game, it is each team’s job to keep members of the opposing team out of the endzone. At your ‪tailgate, it’s your job to keep foods out of the Temperature Danger Zone (40-140 degrees F) where bacteria thrive or “score.” The strategy: Keep cold foods cold & on ice. Eat hot foods within 2 hours or keep hot in chafing dishes. Making sure the ‪food you serve to friends is safe is key to a winning tailgate.


Hosting a tailgate with ‪friends? Keep your fellow fans energized by sending them to the ‪game with a to-go bag of trail mix (‪nuts, dried ‪fruit, and a little dark ‪chocolate). This party favor will come in handy when hunger strikes during the big game (not to mention they won’t miss any important plays while standing in the concession stand line)!


Happy Tailgating! 

Feed Your Family (Without Becoming a Short-Order Cook!)

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Sally: I’d like the chef salad please with the oil and vinegar on the side and the apple pie a la mode…

Waitress: Chef and apple a la mode.

Sally: …but I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally: No, just the pie, but then not heated.

Waitress: Uh huh.


Some of you may remember the above scene from the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally. Perhaps you could substitute your child’s name for Sally’s and your name for the waitress’s. Is pleasing your family at meals or getting everyone to eat the same thing a daily struggle? Now that your family is getting back into a new groove with the new school year, perhaps it’s time to incorporate some new strategies at your family meals…

Internationally recognized Registered Dietitian and Family Therapist Ellyn Satter developed the Division of Responsibility in Feeding also known as the gold standard for feeding children. She outlines the concept in her book How To Get Your Kid To Eat…But Not Too Much: “Parents are responsible for what is presented to eat and the manner in which it is presented. Children are responsible for how much and even whether they eat.”

How do you apply the Division of Responsibility in your home?

1. Choose a time to plan the next week’s meals, allowing your children to give their requests or preferences. As you plan, ask yourself these 2 questions:

  • Have I included a “safe food,” one I know my child will accept, at each meal?
  • Am I choosing a variety of foods at each meal?

Once your plan is complete, consider posting the menu somewhere in your home so everyone will know the answer to that ever-important question: “What’s for dinner?”

2. Serve meals and snacks at the table with minimal distractions at consistent times throughout the day.

3. Allow your child to choose from the foods you are offering.

Don’t make substitutions an option. By including a “safe food” at each meal, you are ensuring your child will not go hungry. By providing regular meals and snacks, you are guaranteeing an opportunity for your child to “make up for” those times he or she eats less at a particular meal.

4. Make mealtimes pleasant, and avoid pressuring your child to eat.

Remember: Children are responsible for whether and how much they choose to eat. Enjoy this built-in opportunity to model healthy eating for your child by eating a balanced meal when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied. Brigid Kay, Registered Dietitian at Schilling Nutrition Therapy encourages her three children to try “one bite to be polite.” It may take 15-20 bites over time for a child to accept a food, so continue offering a variety of foods at meals whether your child enjoys them or not.


Feeding your family doesn’t have to mean being a short-order cook. Planning meals may take a little time on the front end, but imagine the fun and peace that could come from implementing the Division of Responsibility in your home starting this school year!

A link to this article may also be found in the April 2015 Edition of Good Health Magazine.

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