Football Game Plan

It’s football season! (Cue the theme music from NFL on FOX)
With every football party (tailgate or living room) comes with plenty of food and beverages to sustain us through the 3+ hour game. Unfortunately, it’s also where we get “sacked” by poor food choices and end up fumbling our eating habits. Here are some of our favorite tips to help defend your healthy lifestyle and still enjoy football weekends.

Pre-Game Warm Up
Every  football team has a great warm up with practice drills in order to play their best game.

  • Loosen up for the extended couch time ahead by going for a pre-game walk/run or a 5 minute stretch routine.
  • Have a protein-based snack or a light meal to help curb your appetite so you can make smarter food choices later on.
    • Protein Snacks
      • String cheese
      • 1 oz of beef/turkey jerky
      • Greek/Icelandic yogurt
      • Protein bar/shake
    • Power Combos/Light Meals
      • 1 protein snack from above + 1 serving of fruit
      • ½ sweet potato and ¼ – ½ cup black beans
      • Ham and cheese roll up
      • Veggies with hummus + 1 protein snack
      • ¼ – ½ medium avocado + handful of cherry tomatoes + 1 protein snack

Fueling the Team
Cheering your team on for 3 hours is serious work and takes energy. Fuel your squad with healthy options so they can last the full game and avoid the half-time nap attack.

Football Game Plan 1

Grilling is one of the trademarks of a good tailgate party! Be sure to choose lean cuts of meats and bump up the flavor with salt-free seasonings and aromatics (like garlic and onions). Grill smart by reading our grilling post here.

Take a water break! Between every high calorie/alcoholic beverage, drink a glass of water. (Don’t worry, water and staying low-cal doesn’t have to be boring – see our list of alternatives in our blog post here!)

Alcohol can rack up penalty points fast due to hidden calories, especially when we are deeply invested in the game. The American Heart Association recommends limiting to 1-2 alcoholic drinks for men, and 1 drink per day for women. You can still indulge in a drink of your choice with some of these lighter options listed down below.

Note: Try to stay away from high calorie mixers (juices/regular soda), tonic water (has sugar/high fructose corn syrup) and club soda (high sodium).

  • Beer (Per 12 oz)
    • Bud Light (Budweiser): 110 calories, 6.6g carbs, 4.2% ABV
    • Corona Light: 105 calories, 5g carbs, 4.5% ABV
    • Coors Light: 102 calories, 5g carbs, 4.2% ABV
    • Michelob Ultra: 95 calories, 2.6g carbs, 4.2% ABV
    • Miller Lite: 96 calories, 3.2g carbs, 4.2% ABV
  • Spirits (With 1 jigger = 1.5 oz) & Wine
    • Tequila with seltzer water and lime juice
    • Skinny Captain (Rum): Coke Zero and Captain Morgan
    • Vodka with seltzer water or flavored sparkling water
    • Sparkling wine spritzer: 2 oz chilled white wine + 2-4 oz seltzer water
  • Mocktails
    • 1-2 oz of 100% fruit juice (such as apple, cranberry, etc.) diluted with seltzer water over ice
    • Arnold Palmer (black tea lemonade): Simply™ Light Lemonade (sweetened with Stevia) and unsweetened iced black tea

It’s More Than Just Food
Football games and sporting events don’t always have to be about eating and drinking. Many of us love these events because it’s also a great time to catch up with friends and sharing a common interest. (It’s also a great time to strike up some friendly competition with your rivals.)

Go Take A Lap (Stay Active)
Watching a sporting event of any kind usually involves sitting for long periods of time, because we don’t want to miss any of the action! However, we all know staying active is a crucial component to a healthy lifestyle. Football Game Plan

Here are a few ways to incorporate activity into game day without sacrificing the big screen action:

  • Halftime show (unless it’s the Super Bowl): Take a short walk around the neighborhood to stretch out the legs and get some fresh air.
    • Most halftime shows are 15-30 minutes long; set an alarm so you can get back on time for the second half!
  • Commercial breaks:
    • Walk around the house
    • Stretch out your legs, hips, back, neck, arms
    • Do 1-2 sets of 10 (or compete with each other on who can do the most):
      • Pushups (wall, knee, traditional)
      • Lunges (side, forward, backward, curtsy)
      • Squats (half, full)
      • Jumping jacks
      • Sit ups
    • Do 1-2 sets of 15-30 seconds (or compete with each other on who can hold the longest):
      • Wall sits
      • Planks
      • Running/ walking in place
      • Mountain climbers
    • For each event (or just one!), pick one exercise to do listed below:
      • University of Oregon’s mascot “Puddles” will do a pushup for every point on the score board after Oregon scores. When there was 3 touch downs and 1 field goal, he did a total of 66 pushups! (7 + 14 + 21 + 24)
      • For less intense version of Puddle’s workout, you could choose one exercise to do 10 reps for every point-scoring play (i.e. 10 jumping jacks for every touch down/field goal).
      • More intense workout: Pair each of the following events with one exercise – you decide how many reps!



        Field goal

        Jumping jacks


        30 second plank

        Flag on play/ penalty


        Time out


        Complete pass


        1st down

        Front kicks




        30 second wall-sit



With a complete game plan designed to help you stay on track, I wish you all the luck in avoiding the sacks, interceptions and penalty calls this season! May the odds be in your teams’ favor – we’ll check back with you at Super Bowl! (And GO SEAHAWKS!)

Football Game Plan 2

Adriana Ho, MS, RDN, CD, ACSM-CEP
Registered Dietitian

To read more blog posts written by Adriana, click here.