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Super Bowl Health: How to Tailgate/Party Without Taking a Loss

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Paul Rothbart

Super Bowl Health

When it comes to spectator sports, none is more popular in America than football. High school and college stadiums are packed on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons in the fall and major college games are nationally televised. NFL action is where millions glue their eyes on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday.

Even if you’re not a fan, you will probably be made aware if your team punches its ticket to the post-season party. And if your hometown team is playing for the championship, there’s a good chance you’re going to be watching.

The Super Bowl is viewed by practically every fan regardless of whether or not their favorite team is there. Even non-fans love to watch the big game, especially at a viewing party. For those fortunate enough to attend a playoff game, a tailgate party is in order.

What Are the Mainstays of Viewing Parties?

Viewing parties are a major part of the fun of following football. In my younger days, I got together with a group of friends for a weekly viewing party on Monday nights. Great food, beer, and company. It was a lot of fun, but Tuesday mornings were like getting sacked by Aaron Donald.

This went on during the entire season. Viewing parties become more prevalent -- and bigger -- once the playoffs begin. And the biggest viewing party of them all occurs on Super Bowl Sunday. On game day of the Super Bowl, the playoffs, March Madness, or even the Oscars, there are mainstays that every viewing party should have.

A Big Television

The big game requires a big television. You don’t want to be straining your eyes to see whether the ball crossed the goal line or not.

Refreshments

It’s not a party without refreshments and you want to have plenty of food and drink available for guests. Finger foods such as chicken wings and pizza are popular choices. They are tasty, come in a variety of flavors, and are easy to hold and eat while watching the game and socializing.

Depending on your crowd, beverages may include both alcoholic and soft drinks. You should definitely have a non-alcoholic option, including water, for guests who don’t want to feel like they got tackled by Aaron Donald.

Keep an eye on your guests and don’t let them drink excessively, especially if they are planning to drive home. Be willing to let them crash for the night if they overdo it. A DUI is not worth it. But the best strategy is to not let them overdo it.

Healthy Alternatives to Super Bowl Party Foods

Party foods tend to be loaded with fat, excess sugar, and salt. Many Super Bowl recipes are that way. This is bad for your health, even if it’s just one day. You can have a healthy Super Bowl by serving alternatives with better nutritional content.

Roasted Chicken Wings

One of the staples of football party foods is chicken wings. They are usually deep-fried but you can roast them before coating them with your favorite sauce. They will have the same great taste and texture without the added grease and fat of fried foods.

Chips and Guacamole

Chips and dip are classic party foods and many people love guacamole. Avocados, the main ingredient of this popular dip, are incredibly good for you. They are loaded with potassium and healthy fats; by making your own, you can avoid the additives of the store-bought kind. Pair your guac with some tasty, lower-fat chips.

Chili

Chili is easy to serve, easy to eat, and a party staple. The hot peppers used in chili have plenty of nutrition and spicy foods can help you lose weight, although one spicy meal isn’t going to get you ready for the beach. Use a low-fat beef, or better still, ground turkey for a delicious party food that is healthier than most.

Activities to Make My Super Bowl Viewing Party More Fun

The big game is the centerpiece of the party, but you can add to the fun with some Super Bowl party games.

Super Bowl Guessing Game

Before the game, pass out pencils and a list of things about the game for people to guess. Beyond the obvious, like who will win, or what the final score will be, guesses can include who will win the coin toss, who the MVP will be, which team will have the lead at the end of each quarter, and which team will commit the first turnover. Get creative, the possibilities are endless. You can even offer a small prize to the person who gets the most right.

Super Bowl Commercial Bingo

Everyone loves a good Super Bowl commercial. With a little bit of work, you can turn the ads into a fun bingo game. Print up a set of bingo cards, one for each guest. Instead of using the standard numbers and letters, place the names of companies, types of products or services, or the names of celebrities. When a guest spots something on their card in a commercial, they cross it off. Five in a row is bingo, and that guest gets a prize.

Super Bowl Pool

One of the most popular Super Bowl games in offices and neighborhood bars is the Super Bowl pool. You can play this at home too. Make up a board with 10 by 10 squares. Guests buy squares for a dollar apiece and initial their piece of the grid. Place numbers 0 through 9 randomly along the top for one team and left side for the other. Give out pieces of the pot for the correct numbers for the scores at the end of each quarter, the half, and the game. For example, in the 2022 Super Bowl won 38-35 by the Chiefs, the person whose name occupied the grid position for 8 for the Chiefs and 5 for the Eagles would be the winner. People love football pools.

What Is Tailgating?

It doesn’t matter if it’s high school, college, or the pros, when attending a game in person, tailgating is incredibly popular. This activity is when people grill and picnic out of the backs of their vehicles in the parking lot before and after the game. It gets its name from using the tailgate of a truck as a table. It’s a lot of fun and something every fan should experience at least once.

What Are the Rules of Tailgating?

Tailgate parties are group activities and you certainly won’t be the only fans holding one. It’s important to be respectful of other fans and follow the rules of tailgating etiquette.

Confine Your Space

Don’t let your party spill over into other people’s parking spaces. Leave a safe distance from the car in front so they can set up a tailgating spot behind their vehicle.

Be Careful With Grills

No tailgate party is complete without a grill but fire is always potentially dangerous. Keep your coals confined and set your grill away from banners, tents, and vehicles that could catch fire. Bring a fire extinguisher. You never know when you might need it. Did you hear about the guy who stored his small grill of coals under his vehicle when he went into the stadium? When he returned after the game to continue his tailgate, his vehicle had burned. The grill was under the gas tank. Now you’ve heard the story.

Don’t Harass Opposing Fans

It’s fun to get fired up for the game, wear your team colors, or engage in a little face painting. You will most likely see fans rooting for the opposition. Let them have their fun. A little polite back and forth is fine but don’t harass them. Parking lot fights are dangerous and you will all end up thrown out and arrested. Show that your team has classy fans.

What Are Good Strategies for Tailgating?

You want to have a successful party with lots of fun and minimal hassle. There are some good tailgating tips to help you achieve this.

Freeze Water Bottles

You will want to stay hydrated by drinking cold water and you’ll have food that has to stay cold. Kill two birds with one stone by freezing water bottles and using them as cold packs in your cooler. Your food will stay fresh and your water will remain cold.

Bring Garbage Bags

A tailgate party generates a lot of trash. Don’t rely on stadium receptacles because they will be overflowing onto the ground. Bring plenty of plastic trash bags and place them where guests can get to them easily. Cleaning up as you go will make it much easier when the game is over.

Bring Pre-Packaged Utensils

Disposable is the way to go at a tailgate party. Bring pre-packaged plastic utensils with napkins, such as the kind you get in fast food places. Once they have served their purpose, you can toss them. No need to lug them home and clean them.

Tailgate After the Game

When you exit the stadium at the end of the game, you will be tired and want to go home. Save some food for a brief post-game tailgate. It extends the fun but it also allows the traffic to clear out. I do this frequently when attending New York Mets games to avoid a half-hour drive to the Grand Central Parkway a quarter-mile away. Listen to the post-game show on the radio and chat about the game.

What Should You Bring to a Tailgate Party?

There are several items that are essential to a good tailgate party. You should bring a folding table for cooking prep and a place to set prepared food. Several folding camp chairs will make guests more comfortable during the party.

You will want a grill because burgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken are tailgate staples. Bring charcoal, unless you have a gas grill, and a fire extinguisher for safety.

If it’s an early-season game and you live in a hot climate, a small canopy is useful for providing shade. You will want several coolers for beverages and meats. You don’t want foodborne illness to ruin your week.

It’s fun to follow the progress of earlier games and pregame shows, so you may want a radio other than the one in your car. Some people will even bring a portable television with an antenna.

Bring your favorite foods and drinks and have extra for possible visitors. Two vital things to bring are your appetite and the tickets to the game.

Are There Healthy Alternatives to Tailgate Food?

Grilled foods are not always the healthiest thing you can eat. By making some simple substitutions to your favorite tailgating recipes, you can have a delicious feast and still eat healthy.

Use Poultry and Fish

Grilled burgers and hot dogs are the most common and popular tailgate meats. By substituting ground turkey and chicken dogs, you can enjoy these staples and ingest less fat and cholesterol. Fish is very healthy, grills well, and fish tacos are delicious and easy to eat.

Avoid Mayonnaise

Cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad are great tailgate sides. Many people go heavy on mayonnaise, which is loaded with fat. Use vinegar for a healthier salad that will taste just as good. If you must have mayo, use a light type and use it sparingly.

Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes can be cooked on the grill in foil and make excellent sides. Try sweet potatoes. They are healthier and lower in carbs than regular potatoes. Another plus is that they cook faster.

For many fans, football games are more than something to watch. They’re celebrations. Whether you are hosting a party in your home or tailgating at your favorite team's stadium, make it fun, make it tasty, and make it safe.

And whatever you do, don’t get tackled by Aaron Donald.

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