Whether you’re at a college or professional game or watching your children on the field or court, eating from a concession stand is sometimes hard to avoid. When you find yourself in a row of bleachers instead of your dining room table, UnityPoint Health dietitian, Tricia Leininger, R.D., L.D., explains how to select healthier choices from concession stand food.
Eating a Meal from a Concession Stand
Depending on the number of activities, eating a meal at a concession stand can almost become a weekly routine. Leininger says it is something to keep in mind when stepping up to order.
“Attending concession stands weekly can lead to frequent intake of processed and/or fried foods that can impact your health and your waistline,” Leininger says. “I wouldn’t go as far as to say you need to avoid some foods, but I strongly suggest you limit foods high in sodium and fat.”
If you need to eat a meal from the concession stand, Leininger recommends the following choices:
|FOODS TO LIMIT
||BETTER FOOD CHOICES
|- Breaded, fried tenderloins
||- Grilled chicken or tenderloin
|- Hot dogs or brats
||- Sandwiches (limited condiments)
|- French Fries
||- Slice of pizza
Even if you’re grabbing something from the concession stand to snack on during the game, it doesn’t mean less substantial foods are automatically better for you. Additional calories, carbohydrates and sugars can be hiding in smaller portions.
“Snacks that offer nutritional benefits include nuts, trail mix, popcorn, soft pretzel and beef jerky. With the popcorn and pretzels, leave off extra butter and salt to save on calories and sodium,” Leininger says.
If you’re craving something less beneficial for you, Leininger suggests sharing with a family member or friend.
“Limit cookies, funnel cakes and candy. But, if you do have an urge for these items, consider sharing with a friend. Also, be watchful of sugary drinks, such as soda, sweet tea, punch and lemonade, which can easily add 250 calories for a 20-ounce bottle,” Leininger says.
Feeding an Athlete
During tournaments or after games, athletes often come to their parents hungry.
“It’s important to keep athletes well fed, especially during the demands of meets or tournaments. Athletes might do better packing foods they know work for them, as higher fat items with rich sauces or dressings or fried items may feel heavy on an their stomachs and impair athletic performance,” Leininger says.
She offers the following foods as great items to stick in your athlete’s bag, especially if you know these items are not available at the concession stand.
“Between events, an athlete may do best with easy-to-digest carbohydrate items that are low fat, such as bagels, low-fat crackers, granola bars, yogurt or fruit. Include some protein, such as a small handful of nuts, hard-boiled egg, string cheese or lean meat on a sandwich, if the athlete has enough time to digest before his/her next event. Chocolate milk is also considered a good post-workout food, due to its carbohydrate to protein content. And don’t forget hydration – the best hydration is water.”
For more information on how to build a better diet year-round, contact your UnityPoint Health provider.