Outside stadiums across the US, tailgating is as much a part of game day as the game itself. A great tailgating experience brings people together around food and fun and can make game day a rewarding experience whether your team wins or loses. An important part of an enjoyable day in the parking lot should include a few basic things to make it healthy as well.
There are three elements to a healthy tailgate to consider when you plan your tailgate: food, drink, and the weather.
The variety of food at tailgates is amazing as are the chefs that create them. The two most important things to think about when you are flipping those burgers are cooking them and any other meat to the proper internal temperatures and, once they are cooked, avoiding spoilage. Be sure to cook ground meats like burgers to 160°F, steaks 145°F, pork 160°F, and chicken 180°F. Once prepared, make sure your crew eats the food as it comes off the grill, especially on hot days. Food that has been out for two hours should be thrown away and, just to be safe, it’s probably wise not to save leftover burgers and similar meats to avoid stomachaches later.
Drink in Moderation
Having that game-day beer or cocktail is also a rite of autumn. Just remember to drink in moderation, stay hydrated, and have a designated driver. A well-prepared game day host will have nonalcoholic drinks as well and will have water available, especially on hot days. A good rule on a hot day is to drink a bottle of water between each adult beverage. Also, a nonalcoholic bloody mary is a great game day drink. It has water, electrolytes, and vitamin C that can help you avoid a hangover.
Dress for the weather
Football season starts in the dog days of summer and goes through the beginning of winter. Tailgate hosts can help fans avoid the summer heat and winter cold with a bit of planning. No matter what the weather, a canopy is your friend. It provides shade from the sun and a refuge from rain and snow. Sunscreen and light-colored, light-weight clothing can also ward off heat stroke and sunburns in the summer and layered clothing along with hats and gloves can keep you warm in the winter.
As a final tip, keep moving! You need to burn off some of those calories and besides, you will be sitting in a stadium for the next three to four hours. Playing corn hole or passing a football can keep you limber and while exercise will not sober you up, it might let you know if you have had too much to drink.
Planning for food, drink and the weather will make your tailgate enjoyable and safe. Enjoy the game!