Fall is just around the corner, and you know what that means…football season is upon us!  We all know that where there’s a big game, there’s a big tailgate!

If you’re worrying about the calories often associated with game-day festivities, you aren’t alone.  According to a study published earlier this year in Appetite, an international research journal, people tend to associate an increase in their usual food intake with specific contexts or situations. In other words, if you’ve overeaten in a particular situation or environment before, you’re more likely to repeat the bad habit when you find yourself there again. The more you prepare though, the more in control you will be of your appetite.  Before heading out to cheer on your favorite team, check out some of FN’s tips to make your tailgate a healthy one.

Stay hydrated
The most important thing to remember when attending any outdoor sporting event is to drink a lot of water, especially when alcohol is involved.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it blocks the hormone that your kidneys need to reabsorb the water portion of your alcoholic beverage; so instead, they eliminate all of the liquid as urine.  Throw in the warm weather and strong sun, and a tailgate contains all of the elements for dehydration, so prepare a cooler full of water bottles for the day.

Prepare healthy snacks
Hot dogs and burgers and dips, oh my!  The most common football finger foods aren’t exactly the healthiest ones, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge. You’re less likely to overeat in any situation when you prepare your own food to bring with you beforehand—and a tailgate is no different.  Throw a package of turkey burgers into the cooler before you head out. They are lower in fat than traditional tailgate meats.  If you’re a sucker for fatty buffalo chicken dip, check out this lighter version. At only 108 calories a serving, you can enjoy the taste without the guilt.

Protect your skin
Even if you’re sporting a hat for your favorite team, it’s crucial to lather on a strong SPF before heading out into the sun.  Look for a long-lasting formula, since you’re less likely to reapply while you’re out there having a good time.  Try taking some gold-medal worthy cues from some of our favorite Olympic athletes. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Natalie Couglin, 29 year old member of the USA Olympic swim team, dishes that she sports the Vertra Face Stick when competing, which is famous for it’s “sport specific performance qualities.”  USA Sailing Team members Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and David Hughes prefer Kinesys performance sunscreen, notorious for it’s spray-on lasting power.

Keep your beer low-cal
Again, when it comes to attending a tailgate preparation is key.  Stock up on some low calorie beers to bring to the tailgate, like Bud Select 55 or Miller Genuine Draft 64.  Both pack less than 100 calories a bottle, and less than 3 grams of carbohydrates.  Another plus? You won’t have to wait in a keg line!