Take Me Out to the Snack Bar
A summer trip to an outdoor sporting event could sabotage your diet. Here are the foul-ball foods to avoid.
Peanuts and Cracker Jack don’t begin to cover the possibilities for eating while you’re at a stadium watching your favorite baseball team play.
How about funnel cakes at U.S. Cellular Field where the Chicago White Sox play, or a pulled pork sandwich while watching the New York Mets at Citi Field?
Indulging in fun foods is part of the pleasure of being a stadium spectator.
However – and you knew this was coming as sure as that foul ball – you could be loading up on excessive calories, fat, sodium and sugar.
“Obviously it’s a challenge. So many foods smell good, are tempting and supersized at the same time,” says Joan Todd, registered dietitian, Lifebridge Health, Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, Baltimore, Md.
Scoring a delicious meal without grounding your diet may seem as unlikely as a no-hitter, but you can win on both counts if you have a game plan, say nutrition experts.
Know what’s available, how the stadium meal or snack fits into your diet and how to downsize your selection.
Start by scouting.
“Get to the ballpark a little early and take a walk around and see what’s available,” says Alice Bender, registered dietitian, nutrition communications manager, American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C.
“If you take the time to explore the ballpark you may find healthier choices. There are salads, fresh fruit, fruit ice if you search them out,” Todd says.
For advance planning, go online to a stadium’s website and read what the various concessions sell.
Regional offerings, including craft beers and hometown culinary specialties are becoming more popular, making for some appealing options.
“They may not be the healthiest, but interesting and local,” says Bender, a baseball fan.
Depending on where you’re watching a game, the choices could include crab cakes, sushi or beef picadillo in a burrito.
Think about how the portions will fit into your day. If the baseball fare is a prelude to dinner elsewhere, don’t overdo it.
Regardless, dietitians caution that stadium servings typically provide more food than you need.
You can get around that.
“Go for interesting food; what you want and share it,” says Todd, who recommends you also add healthful foods, such as fresh fruit.
Watch beverage sizes as well.
“Anytime anything is ‘souvenir size’ it’s for sharing,” Bender says.
If you’re choosing beer be discriminating. Look for the ballpark’s regional specialty. Try that [one serving] instead of six cups of the usual. Keep the fun in this and use common sense as well.”
The same strategies you use to eat in moderation will help your children avoid excessive sugar and fat during family day at the game.
“Plan ahead. Make sure your children know what their options are in advance,” Todd says.
You’ll not only trim your children’s demands, you’ll avoid a fight during the game.
Turn a stadium dining into an adventure with Todd’s ‘no stands rule.’
“You can’t buy food from the vendor. You have to walk around and find the food,” says Todd, who suggests the exercise is beneficial.
Some of your favorite ballpark foods are loaded with calories and sodium. To see how these snacks add up, visit the website of the American Institute for Cancer Research at: http://www.aicr.org/enews/2012/may-2012/enews-rating-ballpark.html
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