A Football Fan’s Guide to Food and Fitness


Don't fumble your health during football season!

Football season often means cheering on your favorite team with plenty of snacks and drinks to go around. Distracted eating while watching TV can cause you to eat more than you think—or planned for. Football season snacks tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutrients, but that doesn’t mean you have to fumble your health. Try to be mindful of how much you’re eating and balance it with exercise and healthy meals throughout the day.

Check out the “exercise equivalent” of some popular game-day foods and how to get off the couch for halftime activities.

Food Exercise table

Halftime Substitutions - Get off the couch and get in the game!

Calories burned during activities table

Snack Substitutions

No "Hail Mary" here! These tried-and-true substitutions will make your next game-day spread delicious and nutritious.

  • Swap out half the meat in chili, stews, soups, and casseroles with beans, lentils, or mushrooms. You'll still get a lot of protein plus more fiber, vitamins, and minerals - a win for everyone!
  • If your recipe calls for sour cream or mayonnaise, try using low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese instead. These will reduce the amount of fat (and calories) you eat. And as a bonus, you get more protein.
  • Replace cheese dips and spreads with hummus or guacamole. You'll save a little on calories, and you'll be replacing saturated fats with heart-healthy fats. Sack even more calories by serving them with veggie sticks instead the traditional chips and pretzels.
  • Need to quench your thirst? Drink sparkling water instead of sodas. Sparkling water is calorie-free and sugar-free and will satisfy your craving for carbonation. Keep trying different plain or flavored (without sugar) sparkling waters until you find one(s) that you like.
  • Have a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage. Drinking water will keep you hydrated and help reduce your alcohol intake, which means you'll be drinking fewer calories.

Game Day Recipes

GuacamoleSimple Guacamole

Serves 8

  • 2 cups (about 2) avocados
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 7 oz can (or frozen) corn, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. Scoop the pulp and place in a bowl. Drizzle the pulp with lime juice and mash. Combine with remaining ingredients, mix well, and serve.

Serve with red pepper slices, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, whole-grain crackers, or baked tortilla chips.

Calories (guacamole only): 86 per serving

Playmakers: healthy fats, fiber, folate, vitamin C

ChiliTurkey Chili 

Serves 8                

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini (6 oz), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 16 oz lean ground turkey
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can, no-salt-added or low-salt diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28 oz) can, no-salt-added or low-salt crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (15.8 oz) cans no-salt-added or low-salt beans (such as Great Northern, kidney, or black) rinsed and drained
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Spray a large soup pot with cooking spray. Add the onions, carrots, and zucchini, and sauté over medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes or until the onions are clear. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more. Add the ground turkey and cook until brown. Add the remaining ingredients; mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes.

For slow cooker: Cook vegetables and ground turkey as above; add to slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. Cook on high 1–2 hours.  

Serve with toppings: finely diced red onion, cilantro, a sprinkle of cheese, or a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt.

Calories (chili only): 235 per serving

Playmakers: lean protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber

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