Dos and Do Nots for a Healthy Game Day

It’s no secret that watching giant, sweaty men attack each other tends to give people an appetite.

Wait, that didn't come out the way I planned.

But it’s true—as a country, we give ourselves license to indulge in food when we have a raucous football game on the screen. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, except that most game-day food is as bad for you as finding yourself stuck between those angry, sweaty men.

Hmmm, didn't quite get that right either. The point is, showing up empty-handed to a football event is putting yourself in the line of fire—greasy foods fried in vegetable oil, sugar-saturated brownies and cookies and, often, nary a veggie in sight. Not to mention booze, booze and more booze.

The best defense against traditional game day eats is to contribute something healthy, something you know you’ll enjoy enough to turn down the bad stuff. These are some of my favorite crowd-pleasing, I wouldn’t-think-it’s-healthy recipes, which will leave you energized and guilt-free.

Buffalo Tempeh Nachos:

Unfried Crunchy Chicken Tenders:

Maple Pecan Pie Balls:

Holy Fudge Black Bean Brownies:

If you don't have time to bring something or it’s just not that kind of setting, there are other things you can do. First, make sure to arrive at the festivities somewhat full, from a healthy, well-balanced meal or snack (think salad with grilled chicken, oatmeal with nuts and fruit, avocado toast, hard boiled eggs). Secondly, stay hydrated! Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage to avoid getting too sloshed and making bad food choices. And lastly, if you’re going to reach for some of the grub available, be thoughtful! Here are lists of the food and drink I recommend choosing or shunning that you might find on game day!


Crudite, sans creamy dip (except go crazy on hummus if it’s available)

Shrimp Cocktail

Fresh fruit

Chili, minus cheese and sour cream


Baked chicken wings

Drink: Gin or vodka & soda with lime, dry white wine


Anything fried: chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers, fries

Potato Skins


Spinach and artichoke dip

Cheese dip

Cookies, brownies, cake


Drink: heavy beer, mixed drinks with fruit juice or added sugar

Most importantly, remember not to beat yourself up if you end up with a slice of pizza, a brownie and a beer in your hand. I’d argue you’ll do more damage feeling guilty than you will just owning and savoring every bite. Every day is a new day, and what matters is that you take control of your choices.