Lean beef burger with rocket, pickles, tomato and onions

Tips for a Healthier Big Game Spread

The Big Game is almost here! As sports fans know, no game day is complete without delicious food. Plan the ultimate tailgate or watch party without throwing in the towel on your health goals. Try some of these healthier ideas for guilt-free game day foods that will sustain you through those nail-biting overtimes.

Main dishes

Lean beef burger with rocket, pickles, tomato and onions

Many of us are not willing to give up juicy hamburgers, spicy hot wings, or crispy chicken tenders. You don’t have to sacrifice on game day by avoiding your favorite foods, but you can try a few small changes to create healthier dishes. For example, choose a leaner hamburger meat to make your patties such as 80/20 or 90/10 percent fat. Use a whole wheat bun instead of a white bun for extra fiber. Choose a lower-sodium hot sauce and dip your wings instead of completely coating them. Baking chicken tenders instead of frying decreases the fat content while still keeping them crispy.


Pretzel rolls homemade, cheese dip from cheddar with beer and mustard

Eating healthier is all about building a balanced plate. If you don’t want to skimp on your main course, try changing up your sides. Consider lighter options such as a tossed salad, mixed fruit or grilled veggie skewers. Lightly salted pretzels or baked chips offer less sodium and fat than the regular varieties. If available, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables first before heavier items such as potato salad or chips and dip. Fruits and vegetables have a high water and fiber content to fill you up without excess calories. You will also get the added benefits of several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are needed for optimal health.


Very cold mineral water with ice in a misted glass bottles, dark background, selective focus

Making changes to your drink choices may be the simplest switch to make. Water is the best option since it provides hydration and is calorie-free. If water tastes too “plain”, try infusing it with a combination of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Infused water has a refreshing flavor and provides water soluble vitamins. Some tasty recipes include strawberry-kiwi, lemon-blueberry-mint, or even apple-cinnamon. If you want a stronger flavor, try crushing the selected items prior to placing them into the water. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least one cup of water for every cup of a caffeinated beverage that you drink.

If all else fails, remember that moderation is key. All foods can fit into a healthy and balanced lifestyle in moderation. On game day, this might mean choosing your favorite dish but accompanying it with healthier options. Watch your portion sizes and if you are feeling the urge to go for seconds, give yourself at least 10 minutes before refilling your plate. It can take your brain roughly 20 minutes to recognize fullness.


Think of these everyday objects when serving up your food:

– Hamburger: 1 serving= size of your palm

– Sides: 1 serving= tennis ball

– Chips: 1 serving= small handful

– Pie: 1 serving= light bulb

– Cookie / Brownie: 1 serving= post-it note

– Beverages: 1 serving= milk carton


Try this fiber-rich Broccoli Slaw to serve alongside your main dish:

Broccoli Slaw Recipe

Prep/cook time: 25 mins

Servings: 8      Serving size: ½ cup



4 slices of turkey bacon

1- 12 to 16-ounce bag shredded broccoli slaw or 1 large bunch broccoli (about 1 ½ lbs)

1/4 cup low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup finely diced red onion, (1/2 medium)

Optional- 1- 8-ounce can low-sodium sliced water chestnuts, rinsed & chopped



  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning frequently, until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. (Alternatively, microwave on High for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.) Drain bacon on paper towels. Chop coarsely.
  2. If using whole broccoli, trim about 3 inches off the stems. Chop the rest into 1/4-inch pieces.
  3. Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add water chestnuts, onion, bacon and broccoli; toss to coat. Chill until serving time.
  4. Make Ahead Tip: Cover and chill for up to 2 days.


Nutritional Information

Per serving: 80 calories; 4 g fat(1 g sat); 2 g fiber; 8 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 35 mcg folate; 15 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 1 g added sugars; 1301 IU vitamin A; 40 mg vitamin C; 49 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 376 mg sodium; 222 mg potassium

Source: Eating Well- http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/251742/broccoli-slaw/



By: Elizabeth Hall, RDN, LDN and Lisa Swearingen, ETSU Dietetic Intern


Tips for a Healthier 2017!

It’s a new year, and we’re all setting goals and working to build better habits. In that spirit, I’ve provided a comprehensive list of tips to help guide your goals in the coming year. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017!


Healthy Living / Goal Setting

  • Set S.M.A.R.T. goals: No matter what you resolve to do this year, make sure to set goals that will help you succeed. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Goals should have each of these attributes in order to help you be successful. Sometimes when our goals aren’t “SMART”, we set ourselves up for failure.
  • Commit to Family Meals: Studies show that families who take the time to eat together at the dinner table are not only happier, but healthier as well. Kids who eat regular meals at home do better in school and have improved mental health and positive family relationships. For an added benefit, individuals who eat more meals at home eat less overall and are less likely to be overweight.
  • Drink More Water: Water helps our bodies regulate temperature and get rid of wastes. Feeling thirsty can sometimes feel like a false sense of hunger, so staying hydrated can help us avoid eating when we aren’t hungry. Caffeinated drinks like soda, coffee, or tea actually dehydrate the body, so it is best to limit these beverages and stick to water most often.
  • Break out of Dieting Jail: Diets are meant to be temporary and are rarely effective for sustainable behavior change. Instead, focus on adding healthy behaviors to your lifestyle such as eating more fruits and vegetables or exercising frequently. This will help you make a lasting change and avoid “yo-yo dieting” which can damage metabolism.
  • Focus on Mindfulness: Being mindful is a lost art in our society, especially during meals. We often eat quickly on the run or while watching TV, which takes not only the awareness, but some of the enjoyment out of meal times. As best you can, try to schedule at least 20-30 minutes for meals. Slow down, taste your food, and enjoy the meal experience.
  • Get Cooking: Preparing meals at home is often cheaper and healthier. Get the whole family involved in meal planning and food prep. Kids are more likely to eat a dish if they helped create it. Resolve to learn new kitchen skills together this year, like baking homemade bread or cooking dried beans.



  • Eat Breakfast: The old saying is true – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research shows that individuals who eat breakfast eat fewer calories later. When it comes to improving metabolism and energy, eating a balanced breakfast can give you that much needed jump-start to tackle the day.
  • Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber plus antioxidants to support your immune system. The different colors mean different nutrients, so be sure to get a variety of colors each day. Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried are all great options.
  • Incorporate Healthy Snacks: Snacks can act as a much needed bridge between meals to fuel your metabolism, keep your energy level up, and prevent you from overeating later. Try to include at least two food groups in your snacks such as yogurt with fruit, whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese, or a small portion of nuts with an apple.
  • Get to Know Food Labels: Food packages make a wide variety of claims from “reduced-fat” to “low-calorie” or even simply “healthy”. The Food and Drug Administration has strict guidelines on some of these terms, but not all of them. If you are trying to make a purchase decision based on nutrition, the best place to check would be the Nutrition Facts Panel which is more tightly regulated and consistent.
  • Eat Whole Grains: Whole grain foods have all three parts of the grain seed which increases their fiber and nutrient content. The brown color doesn’t necessarily mean your bread is whole grain. Check the label. Whole grains should have at least 3 grams of fiber in one serving. Also, the very first ingredient should be “100% whole grain”.
  • Focus on Balance: All food groups are important because they play specific roles in the body. Foods that are higher in energy or calories and lower in nutrients should be eaten less often in moderation. Foods higher in nutrients are often lower in calories, so the portion sizes of these foods can be larger and they can be eaten more often.
  • Go Fish – At Least Twice per Week: Seafood is a lean protein source that is high in omega-3 fatty acids which may contribute to heart and brain health. Try to eat fish or shellfish at least twice per week to enjoy these benefits.
  • Cut Back on Added Sugars: Added sugar can be hidden in many foods and drinks. These sugars add calories, but little nutrition. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping added sugars to less than 12 teaspoons per day. Use the Nutrition Facts Panel and ingredient lists to find foods without added sugars and choose plain, unsweetened varieties when possible.
  • Banish Boredom at Lunchtime: Mix up your lunch routine with combinations of homemade items and purchased food from the grocery store. Try a whole-wheat pita pocket with hummus or a sandwich on whole wheat bread paired with pre-cut fruits and vegetables, a side salad, or even a bowl of soup from the Produce and Deli Department. The grocery store has a variety of freshly prepared options that can give you a healthier alternative to fast food.


 DietitianTips_Break-up-Your-Exercise-Routine-01Exercise / Activity

  • Break up Your Exercise Routine: Physical activity decreases the risk of disease and helps manage stress and weight. The recommendation for adults is 150 minutes of exercise each week. This may seem daunting at first, but research shows that activity in just 10 minute increments is beneficial to health. Start small with 5-10 minutes of exercise three times each day. You will feel the difference!
  • Enjoy the Great Outdoors: Don’t let cold weather keep you cooped up inside. Bundle up, and head outdoors instead! Enjoying nature can soothe stress. The sunshine also helps our bodies activate vitamin D which is important to prevent depression during the winter months.



Body Positivity / Emotional Health

  • Give up the Guilt: Guilt is only a good thing when it motivates you to positive change, not if it gives you the chance to wallow or put yourself down. It is the same with healthy eating. Good nutrition is determined over time and is based on lifestyle not on one meal or one day of eating something out of the norm.
  • Be Body-Positive: With obesity persisting as a major health concern, it is common for conversations about weight to occur at home and often at the dinner table. Focusing only on weight can be emotionally harmful, especially for children and teens who are still developing physically. Instead, it is more helpful to talk positively about the nutrients that food can provide for the body.
  • Manage Stress Wisely: Our busy lives often contribute to excess stress. If not managed, this stress can build up and cause serious mental, emotional, and physical problems. Make sure to include stress-relieving activities into your daily routine such as deep breathing, meditation or doing something you love with friends and family.


 DietitianTips_Commit-to-Family-MealsDisease Prevention

  • Schedule your Annual Wellness Exam and Screenings: No one particularly enjoys going in for a check-up, but seeing a healthcare provider regularly is important to identify problems and prevent long-term diseases. Go ahead and call your healthcare provider to schedule your wellness exam and recommended screenings today!
  • Don’t Forget Sun Protection: Sunburns are often associated with heat, but no matter the temperature outside, over-exposure to the sun’s rays can still lead to skin damage and sunburn. Sun protection is just as important during the winter as it is during the warmer months. If you will be outside for longer than 10 minutes, apply sunblock of at least SPF 15 to your skin regularly.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Scientists aren’t sure why, but too little sleep increases the risk of weight gain and developing Type 2 Diabetes. One theory is that poor sleep disrupts hormone levels that regulate appetite which increases the likelihood of overeating. The importance of adequate sleep applies to children as well and may be just as crucial as nutrition and exercise to proper development.


elizabeth-hall-16This post was guest written by Elizabeth Hall, RDN, LDRN Registered Dietitian, Food City

Follow her on Twitter @FCDietitican