Tailgate Parties and Diabetes

Get Your Gameday Plan in Place

Football season is well underway. Whether or not you are a fan of the gridiron, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement—and the unhealthy eating—associated with watching the sport especially when tailgating is involved.

tailgating season

Hot wings, chips and beer go with tailgates like coaches and their headsets. These calorie-laden goodies can be hard to resist and may stress you in your effort to manage your blood sugar. But don’t worry, you don’t have to skip the party. There are plenty of ways to get in on the game and still come out a winner in the battle against diabetes. Here are some tips:

Game Day Strategies

Your best defense against elevated blood sugar levels is to plan ahead. Borrow a play from the offense and come up with a game plan before you tackle that tailgate party.

Goal # 1. Always make sure to eat something before heading to a tailgate party. When you attend a food-focused party on an empty stomach, overeating is almost inevitable. Instead of reaching for the carrot sticks and celery, you opt for the chips, wings and mozzarella sticks. Before you know it, you've mindlessly munched your way through the buffet line.

Instead of setting yourself up for failure, go for success and eat a light meal or snack an hour or two before you're scheduled to arrive. To balance sugar levels, select an option that balances lean protein, healthy fat, and fiber. A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with sliced avocado or a bowl of low fat cottage cheese topped with chopped walnuts and fresh fruit are both terrific options.

Goal #2. BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish). When you volunteer to bring a dish, you ensure that there's at least one food option to help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Some easy and good-for-you appetizer and side dish options:

  • a fresh veggie platter with hummus for dipping.
  • a cheese platter with a mix of low-fat and full-fat sliced cheese along with 100% whole grain crackers.
  • cauliflower bites baked with homemade hot sauce, garlic, onion and cayenne pepper.
  • shrimp cocktail.
  • 100% whole grain baked chips and salsa.
  • Parmesan Baked Tomato Bites. See recipe, below.

Goal #3: Eat first, sip later. Be mindful about your alcohol choices when tailgating. If indulging in a few of your favorite adult beverages, you may start to notice a tendency to more food. Alcohol has been found to stimulate appetite while lowering inhibitions. Care also needs to be taken when consuming alcohol to prevent spikes or crashes in blood glucose levels. In moderate amounts, alcohol can cause blood glucose levels to rise. However, in large quantities, blood glucose can actually decline, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia. For these reasons, stick to drinking alcohol only in moderation (one glass per day for women or two for men) and enjoying it with food, and not on an empty stomach. Try drinking toward the middle or the end of the tailgate to prevent against overeating. And when selecting a drink, avoid sugar sweetened beverages that may pack in additional calories and raise blood sugar. Instead, opt for a light beer or a dry wine as your best choice.

Goal #4: Remember healthy blood sugar management is not just about your food choices. The more active you are, the easier it is to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. So instead of sitting passively and watching the players get a workout, fit in a little movement yourself. Stand up during commercial breaks and move as you socialize. Organize a game of flag football or a family walk during halftime. Or if you're tailgating at a stadium, do a few laps around the parking lot with a buddy to get your body in calorie-burning mode.

Parmesan Tomato Bites

These parmesan tomato bites are healthy, irresistible, easy to make and tailgate friendly. Once baked, this finger-food, which is low in saturated fat and carbohydrates, can be served cold. Or you can rewarm by covering in foil and placing over a hot grill or in the oven for a few minutes.


  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

paremsan tomato bites Photo courtesy of www.MommyhoodBytes.comDirections:

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Slice cherry tomatoes in half and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with cheese, pepper, and oregano. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until cheese has melted and tomatoes are tender. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving:
30 calories, 1.5 gm carbohydrate, 0.5gm fiber, 1 gm protein 2.5gm fat


Updated on: July 26, 2017
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