How To Win On Game Day With Healthy Tailgating

Are you feeling tired and hungover the next day during football season and gaining weight due to food for game day? Then this article is for you. These healthy tailgating tips will have you feeling like a winner on game day and not bloated or hungover the next.

You will find healthier options on what to drink (yes - there are alcohol suggestions), what food for game day to choose (we know you want your burgers, pizza, and chicken wings), pregame strategies to keep you feeling good, and even some pre-tailgate party workout advice.

Alcohol is a Winner On Game Day. A Loser the Next Day at Work.

To feel good at work the next day and not be dragging swap out that can of beer for a non-alcoholic beer. You can find any variety of non-alcoholic beers to fit your taste buds and style. Beer in hand? Check! Taste good? Check! Fewer calories? Check! Feel good tomorrow? Check!

Want to find beers that have all the taste of a craft beer sans the alcohol? Check out -

  • Zero Proof Nation is a great resource to find many non-alcoholic drinks, people, places, and events. ZPN’s goal is to provide zero-proof options to every single human who wants something different - something new, something rebellious, something sans booze.
  • NA Brews and help support their goal of normalizing drinking high-quality non-alcoholic beers into something that the world has never seen before.

After putting a few to the taste test, my beer (s) of choice are:

Other NA Beers that were highly recommended by fellow health and fitness coaches:

Beer isn’t your thing?

Don’t worry, try Hella Cocktail Co’s Dry Aromatic Bitters & Soda for a non-alcoholic full-flavored drink to sip on.

In addition, mocktails are scoring big this fall. Whip up your own Strawberry Jalapeno Margarita Mocktail with this refreshing recipe: Spicy Strawberry Mockarita

Quick Drinking Options

If creating your own mocktail is too fancy or you’re short on time, then a basic club soda and a squeeze of lime will do the trick.

Not quite ready to give up your buzz? You can also try out some of my favorite low-cal options:

  • Corona Premier
  • Michelob Ultra
  • Club soda and vodka or tequila with a lime

Another strategy that works is to simply alternate water and/or non-alcoholic beverages with alcoholic beverages.

Carbonated or sparkling water is another way to keep the football party going without having to feel deprived.

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Take your pick: A little of this. A little of that.

Or pick your 3 favorite games of the season and decide to only drink on those days. Every weekend doesn’t have to be a Super Bowl caliber production. Then on all other game days that aren’t that significant, make it a point to be there for fun and go sans alcohol.

My go to tailgating strategy goes like this:

A little of this. A little of that.

Coach Brandy give her best tips on food for game day

Snack Food for Game Day

Making healthier choices about food for game day doesn't mean giving up your favorites. Do you love burgers, pizza, and wings?


Pick one of these foods and order a smaller size instead of partaking in all of your favorites at once. Then, the following week you can pick different favorite foods to enjoy.

Now that you have one of your favorites in hand, think about what you can add?

  • Can you add something healthy or low carb and more filling or just to nosh on to the meal?

Let me tell you if the wings are on point, I don’t mind adding a plate of celery and carrots to the side—the crunch of both the carrots and the celery helps with the celebration of the party food.

  • Perhaps you are not ready to give up those chips.

Once again, add a little of this and a little of that by having half a bowl of tortilla chips and half a bowl of cucumber slices or pickles ready; you’re golden.

More Healthy Tailgating Party Food Options for Game Day

Another way to do a little of this and a little of that is to make your favorite foods with some healthy swaps.

  • Ever tried serving open-face burgers with one bun on the bottom?
  • How about using grilled portobello mushrooms as buns?

Making sliders can offer various options of tastes and textures by swapping out proteins on some sliders for lean proteins or swapping out the buns for fresh veggie tops or a sturdy piece of lettuce to lower the carbs.

Bring some with buns and some without. You are getting the hang of this now.

Want more ideas on how to get the healthy grill game on point?

Set yourself up for Success: Get Your Pre-tailgate Routine On Point

Healthy Tailgating might mean eating before you go

I’ll repeat it. Eat before you go!

This is the opposite of what many of us do. Instead, we try to save up our calories and show up to the party with an empty stomach.

Sure, saving some calories during the day can be helpful, but notice the word “some” calories.

  • Skipping meals on game day is a recipe for disaster, so eat slightly lighter meals before the game

Aim for eating one or two solid meals on tailgating days. Include protein, carbs, and healthy fat.

Imagine yourself two to three drinks in on an empty stomach. It is so much easier to decide to “put the pizza in your mouth” when you haven’t eaten all day. Having a lighter meal before helps you make better choices during the game.

Be like the Pros: Do a Pre-game Warm Up

Create a pre-tailgate ritual by adding some movement before you get to the tailgate party.

  • You don’t need to do a crazy, intense workout to “earn your calories,” which can set you up for one extreme exercise followed by one extreme eating ritual.

The additional exercise can be a walk, a bike ride, or your regular lifting session. You can even bring a football to toss before the game starts.

The idea is to set up a healthy habit every game day by adding some movement before you go and consistently doing this all season long. Make it a way of life during the football season.

The players warm up before they play to prevent injury. Look at this as your pregame warm-up to prepare for the slightly higher caloric intake. On Sundays, I move, and I tailgate can become the new mantra.

Woman in team jersey holding football for a quick workout before the enjoying food for game day

Close The Window On Eating: One Quarter at a time

One Quarter to Eat. Three Quarters To Cheer.

Let’s make time restricted eating/drinking happen.

Time restricted?

Say what?

Ok, here is how and why it works.

  • Pick one half or one quarter of the game, or maybe just during halftime. During this time, and ONLY this time, it is the only period you allow yourself to eat or drink. You decide.

This puts the power in your hands to enjoy the food for game day that you love and sets a limit on the amounts to avoid binging or mindless eating.

  • What are you going to do during the rest of the game?

Watch, cheer, and talk smack with friends!

You will wake up not as bloated or not as hungover the next day, and you will thank me.


That’s it. Let’s get ready for game day!

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Chaos Tamer Brandy Monge guides busy professionals to find balance between the chaotic life of a successful career and the desire to be healthy, fit, and energetic. She shows professionals that they don’t have to choose between being successful or being healthy. Brandy is a nutrition coach, gym owner, and fitness trainer who has a start with what we love approach to nutrition and fitness. Find other articles written by Brandy on her coach profile and start creating systems and habits to get your body in tip-top shape just like your career.