Heading to Fenway for opening day? Tips for eating healthy at the ballpark

April 8th, 2011

Joan Salge Blake, Clinical Associate Professor of Nutrition at College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College spoke to Heart Insight, newsletter of the American Heart Association, for their piece “Hit A Nutrition Home Run At the Ballpark.” If you can afford to, Joan recommends upgrading your seats:

“The trend is to upgrade to more choices and more fresh foods that are better for you. If you splurge on a pricey suite or other premium seating area you can not only enjoy the best view of the game, but can order from an extensive restaurant-style menu featuring the most upscale and trendy foods.

She also recommends avoiding the pitfalls of “all-you-can-eat” seats currently being offered a stadiums across America costing between $35-50.00 in addition to ticket price:

“An extra $30 for hot dogs? Those are expensive hot dogs! They are also high in sodium and fat.”

Also:

“Eat before heading out to the ballpark so you don’t make a meal of these foods, and will be satisfied with snack-sized portions. “Decide what you would really like to eat, factor that into your food intake for the day, and enjoy it while you’re at the ballpark,”

Here are a few other tips:

  • Whenever possible, ask questions about portion size, caloric content and how much fat, salt and cholesterol a food item or dish contains.
  • Look for plant-based foods, which are lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber. Most ballparks now serve some combination of whole-grain bread, fresh fruit and salad. Skip the butter on the bread, and choose an oil-based — not creamy — salad dressing.
  • Go for grilled, not fried. A grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato is much lower in saturated fat and calories than a fried hamburger (either way, skip the fries).
  • Instead of hot dogs and hamburgers, try new cuisines — but ask the server to modify as needed to reduce fat and calorie content. For example, a Tex-Mex burrito filled with beans and shredded lettuce can be quite filling (but ask the server to skip the cheese and give you extra salsa instead, so you can sneak in more veggies). Sushi, grilled salmon, steamed edamame and other Japanese foods are also good high-protein, low-fat choices.
  • If you feel like having a full meal, watch the action from one of the stadium restaurants. Choose steamed or poached entrées, instead of those deep fried or sautéed in butter. And keep your intake of saturated fat low by avoiding cream-based soups, sauces and salad dressings, and dishes that are made from or garnished with cheese.
  • Limit your intake of sugar by chugging bottled water or diet soft drinks, instead of regular soda, “energy drinks” or sugar-added fruit juice — and keep in mind that the typical 20-ounce size soft drink is actually 2½ servings.
  • If you’re one of those who insists on “traditional” ballpark fare, choose wisely. Snack on peanuts in the shell (low in saturated fat, high in fiber, B vitamins and protein); scrape the salt off the soft pretzel; guzzle low-carb or alcohol-free beer (fewer calories and carbohydrates than regular beer); and substitute sorbet or fruit ice for ice cream in a tiny plastic baseball hat (frozen fruit-based desserts have very little saturated fat, as compared with ice cream).
  • If you don’t want to strike out nutritionally, avoid ballpark franks (too much salt and saturated fat), as well as Cracker Jacks and cotton candy (both are high in sugar).

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