Tailgating Tips for Diabetes

The fall season heralds cooler temperatures, Halloween and, of course, football! Tailgating (whether you’re at the game or watching it on TV) is a mainstay of many football games. But as social and fun as it is, overdoing the eating and drinking can wreak havoc on your diabetes control. Learn how to manage your blood sugars – and your weight – while still getting in on the fun.


  • Have a game plan. Football coaches and players know all about game plans. Follow their lead and come up with one yourself. Not sure how? Here are some ideas to get you started:
    • Don’t arrive hungry. It’s never a good idea to forgo eating before any special event. You’ll only end up overdoing it. Follow your usual eating schedule and, if needed, eat a healthy snack before you go, such as Greek yogurt and nuts, or an apple and peanut butter.
    • Bring your supplies. Diabetes supplies, that is. Pack your meter, medicine and treatment for low blood sugar (glucose tablets and gels work well).
    • Wear the right shoes. If you’re at the game, chances are you’ll be doing some walking, so wear sneakers or comfortable walking shoes.
  • Choose foods wisely. Typical game-day food often consists of Buffalo wings, chips and dip, burgers and hot dogs – foods that are high in calories, fat and, sometimes, carbohydrate. It’s okay to allow yourself a treat, but decide what you’d really like. Resist the temptation to eat everything.
  • Bring something healthy. If you’re watching the game at a friend’s house, offer to bring a healthy salad or a lower-calorie dip with veggies and baked chips, for example. Pack up turkey hot dogs, chicken for grilling or lean beef and vegetable kabobs to throw on the grill. If you’re hosting a tailgate party, you have more control over what’s served. In colder months, consider whipping up a batch of healthy bean or turkey chili. Ask guests to bring a salad, cooked vegetable dish or whole grain bread.
  • Eat mindfully. When you’re cheering on the home team, it’s easy to munch away without realizing it. Try keeping a bottle of water in your hand instead of food. And when you do reach for a treat, reach for raw vegetables, air-popped popcorn or rolled-up turkey breast or lean roast beef.
  • Limit the alcohol. Drinking alcohol is often a big part of tailgating and game-day parties. As long as your doctor has given you the green light to drink alcohol, it’s okay to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. But drink alcohol safely and wisely:
    • Always eat something that contains carbohydrate to lessen the risk of low blood sugar.
    • Aim for no more than two drinks if you’re male, or one drink if you’re female. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ oz. of hard alcohol, such as rum, vodka or whiskey.
    • Watch the mixers: regular soda and juice add calories and carbs. Use diet soda or diet tonic water, instead.
    • Check your blood sugar regularly to see how alcohol affects your diabetes.
  • Move at half-time. Use half-time as an excuse to get out of your seat (or off the couch) and go for a walk, do some stretches, climb some stairs or toss the football around in the yard.

 Make football season a winning season for your health!



(97 Articles)

Amy Campbell MS, RD, LDN, CDE is an experienced health, nutrition and diabetes educator and communicator with more than 25 years of experience within the healthcare sector. Amy has extensive expertise in editing and writing for patients, consumers and healthcare professionals; public speaking, teaching and group facilitation; project and account management; and content and curriculum development.


She is currently the Director for Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures LLC, a Health Professional Advisor at the Egg Nutrition Center, and a blogger/Writer for Madavor Media.

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