Tackling Overindulgence on Game Day

Tis the season of football and, although the win is never a foregone conclusion, it is safe to say that the food and drinks will be as plentiful as the mutterings about bad calls from officials.

So, whether you are packing a cooler for a tailgating party or watching the game in the comfort of your home, here are a few tips on how you can tackle game-day overindulgence.

When preparing your game-winning treats, consider these ways to make your recipes healthier.

  • Use less salt. Try making your favorite dish with half the recommended sodium/salt. Chances are your blood pressure will soar at some point during the game. Do what you can to make sure it isn’t due to your snacks.
  • Switch up your dips. Cheese seems to be a main ingredient in dips found at tailgates. You can reduce the amount of cheese necessary by selecting a stronger flavored cheese, where a little will go a long way. Or try substituting tangy, fat-free Greek yogurt for sour cream.
  • Use healthy oils. When you need oil, use canola, which has nearly half the saturated fat as other oils.
  • Modify sweet treats. If sweets are where you fumble, reduce sugar-crumb toppings. Half the suggested amount is often enough. You can also sprinkle chocolate and nuts on the top, versus mixing into batters, for concentrated flavor.
  • Be mindful of what you eat. Enjoy your food. Taste each bite and pay attention to portions. Who hasn’t been chatting with friends, or watching TV while snacking, only to look down and realize the bowl of chips is now empty and the only hands in the bowl were yours?
  • Don’t skip a meal to “save calories” so you can eat more at the tailgate. Although it seems like a good strategy, you will typically end up splurging, often on calorie-dense and fat-laden foods, and eating more all the way around.
  • Remember to drink water. Some say beer and wine go hand-in-hand with tailgating. Go ahead and treat yourself, but limit yourself to one alcoholic drink for every two glasses of water you drink.
  • Use a small plate and slow down! It can take 20 minutes for the food you eat to be digested enough for the glucose to enter your bloodstream and for your body to register a sense of fullness.
  • Move during halftime. Take advantage of the break in action to take a brisk walk or tackle the stadium stairs. This will also help alleviate any stress that might be settling in if your favorite team is not winning.

As the game clock winds down, celebrate your victories. If you find that over-indulgence was the winner of the day, don’t despair. Tomorrow is a new day and you can embrace it by getting back on track.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, give this healthier seven layer dip a try.

Healthier Seven-Layer Dip

This recipe has been adapted from Good Housekeeping.


  • 3-4 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon no-salt-added chili powder
  • 1 can (15-ounce) pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 TBSP cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh corn
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 oz reduced-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 ounces low-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper


  • In large bowl, combine tomatoes, green onion, garlic, jalapeno, 1 tbsp. lime juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  • Heat oil on medium in a skillet. Add onion and saute until golden. Add chili powder and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat, add beans and a dash of salt and pepper. 
  • In bowl, mash avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and a dash of salt. Mix until almost smooth. 
  • Spread bean mixture in a glass baking dish. Top with corn and red pepper. Spread sour cream and then the salsa over vegetables. Dollop avocado mixture over salsa; spread into even layer. Sprinkle with cheese for the top layer. 


Fong001cAbout the author: Diane Fong is the CEO of the Pulse3 Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving heart health in mid-Michigan. She currently serves on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Advisory Council, Community Health Improvement Partners Action Group, Step Up Saginaw – a countywide health initiative, as well as the Hidden Harvest and Saginaw Downtown Association board of directors, and the Saginaw Community Foundation Finance Committee.

She received a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Master of Public Administration from Wayne State University and was honored as a 2012 YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region Woman of Achievement for Community Leadership.  She and her husband Al are the proud parents of three children.


Photo credit: Chris Connelly (main), Courtesy image (Diane Fong)


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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2015.



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