Bright green grass, stadium lights, classic uniforms and the smell of roasted peanuts all mean one thing: time for Major League Baseball. Just because you are conscious of your calories, however, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy America’s favorite pastime. Enjoy a baseball game this summer without wrecking your diet by following our stadium survival guide.
Roasted Peanuts, Not Cracker Jacks
“Take me out to the ball game…buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…” Well, not so fast: A box of Cracker Jack is loaded with unhealthy gunk like sugar, corn syrup, oil and salt. Your best bet is to stick with a 12-ounce bag of roasted peanuts, which is rich in protein and healthy fats. Be careful, though: A 12-ounce bag of roasted peanuts can pack up to 1,200 calories. Peanuts, as with all nuts, can be a healthy snack in moderation, so try sharing a bag with your whole group to keep portions in check.
Fresh Fruit, Not Cotton Candy
Cotton candy is an ever-tempting stadium treat, with vendors constantly walking up and down the aisles with armfuls of the sugary snack. Despite cotton candy’s low calorie count of 210 calories for one bag, the concoction is loaded with sugar. Not long after eating cotton candy, you will crash and crave something else. Instead, try seeking out a fruit cup or piece of whole fruit (you’d be surprised—fresh fruit is possible to find at the ballgame). Fresh fruit easily goes unnoticed amid all of the tempting junk food, but a nutritious cup of fiber-rich fruit will satisfy your hunger longer.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Not Hamburger
Even better: turkey burger!
If you have a hankering for a meaty sandwich, don’t go straight for the burgers. A 6-ounce hamburger has 490 calories without cheese or other toppings. You are better off with a grilled chicken sandwich, which has only 280 calories.
Hot Dog, Not Pizza
If you’re counting calories, hot dogs are a surprisingly safe bet. A hot dog and bun plus mustard clocks in at a modest 290 calories. To slash even more calories, skip the bun and just eat a hot dog and mustard for 180 calories. Toppings like sauerkraut add 5 to 10 calories, ketchup adds 30 calories and relish is an additional 40 calories. So go ahead and buy that Kosher hot dog—although its high sodium content makes it an occasional indulgence, a normal-sized hot dog isn’t a diet disaster by any means. Whatever you do, steer clear from stadium pizza. Slightly larger than a traditional slice, one stadium slice of pizza can range anywhere from 435 to 500 calories.
French Fries, Not Nachos
Even better: baked potato!
Ranking as one of the worst foods you could possibly eat at a baseball game, a 12-ounce container of nachos packs in more than 1,500 calories. If you’re craving something salty, French fries make a (relatively speaking) healthier alternative with 500 calories for a 6-ounce box. Your best bet is to look for a baked potato, which is rich in vitamin B6 and antioxidants. Just make sure not to top the potato with high-fat barbecue brisket.
Corn on the Cob, Not Popcorn
Some baseball stadiums serve corn on the cob. The corn contains 80 calories, but a butter topping would add 100 calories. This snack is still healthier than popcorn, which totals 1,500 calories for a huge tub without butter. Besides, corn on the cob is more flavorful and fresh than greasy popcorn.
Wrap, Not Soft Pretzel
Even better: sushi!
Wraps are a nutritious option if you can find one at your baseball stadium. With a variety of veggies, wraps make a much healthier lunch than a soft pretzel. A regular soft pretzel has 400 calories, while a larger pretzel has 700 calories. If you are lucky, you will find a sushi stand at your stadium. Sushi is a fresh and healthy lunch that has nutritious value as long as you choose your roll wisely. Mayo-based sauces or cream cheese will quickly turn your sushi roll into a major fat and calorie trap.
Frozen Yogurt, Not Snow Cone
By the sixth inning of a baseball game you have probably already been sitting for quite awhile. When you begin to crave something cold and sweet, don’t immediately choose a snow cone. Snow cones are low in calories (120 calories in a 12-ounce cone), but these calories come from flavored syrups and are extremely high in sugar. This low-cal dessert is no treat to your body. Frozen yogurt contains yogurt probiotics and is lower in fat and calories than ice cream. You can even sprinkle some fruit or granola on top for a more filling snack.
What to drink? Beer or Soda
Sitting in the heat for a long time will dehydrate you quickly. To stay cool while watching your team play, drink plenty of water and try to avoid too much beer or soda. Drafts come in 20-ounce cups that have about 240 calories. A light draft will save you 60 calories. Soda contains about 230 calories for a 20-ounce cup.
Keep these tips in mind when preparing for a baseball game this season:
- Don’t come hungry. Fill up on a healthy meal before you arrive at the stadium so you are less likely to indulge.
- BYOS. Ditch the stadium snacks and stash your own healthy snacks (such as nuts or grapes) along with you in your purse.
- Share the love. Share your fries with your group instead of keeping them all to yourself.
- Be mindful. Don’t mindlessly eat while focusing too hard on the game.
- Watch out for portions. Ask for an extra container to split up your food so you can control your portion sizes.
- Be frugal. Set a budget prior to arriving at the game. Stadium food is pricey, and this way you’ll save money and cut calories!
- Stick to one round. Limit yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks aside from water.
- Do your research. Find what food options are offered at your stadium and make a plan of attack in advance so that your resolve doesn’t crumble when you’re greeted with the aroma of buttery popcorn.