Written by Sarah Joy Maxwell




It’s almost here---Football Season!!! Woo-hoo! Whether it’s following one of our great SEC college teams, one of our local high school teams, or wonderful pee-wee football, around here we all love our football. And part of the fun is the food. 

We tailgate with spreads to equal a Thanksgiving dinner. We have game watching parties during which we “graze” with all the various food and drinks, or we indulge in stadium dogs, big gulp drinks, nachos and sometimes even funnel cakes. I feel like I’m gaining weight just writing about this. And we are usually just spectators or couch potatoes and not doing any exercise like the athletes are doing. Fortunately, we do not have to play football to gain the benefits of exercise, but we really should move more than just jumping up and yelling occasionally, although that is a little bit of exercise, or in some cases, a pretty good bit of exercise. If you have diabetes, you would be really smart if you do a little planning ahead of time so you can enjoy all the aspects of this fun time of year and not totally trash your blood sugar control and your health.

If you are tailgating, plan some yummy but healthy dishes and be very sure to keep them at the correct temperature. That way, they are tastier and you won’t run the risk of a nasty case of food poisoning as a result of something not kept at the right temperature. Plan on something to snack on after the game too, since usually traffic is bad, and you have to wait until it clears a little, so have something healthful and tasty prepared for that time as well. If you are taking something to a tailgating party, this is your chance to show people that “healthful” dishes can also be yummy dishes and be sure it is something you really like so it will be easy for you to eat that over the less healthy foods. 

For home game watching parties, be smart and don’t fall for the high fat, high carbohydrate snacks that are way too easy and tend to ruin blood sugar control. One of my favorites is homemade spinach dip. The original recipe calls for it to be made with sour cream and mayo. I have found that you can substitute low fat yogurt for the sour cream and low or reduced fat mayo and then use sliced raw veggies for dipping instead of high fat, high carb chips or crackers. Remember, many “fat free” products actually add sugar when they remove the fat and that is not healthy for someone who has diabetes. 

There are many, many more delicious recipes for tailgating and snacking and the Monthly Diabetes Management Meeting Thursday night, August 22, will be dealing with this topic. In fact, there may just be some examples available. No promises, because that is still in the works, but… I know for sure that there will be some great information.

If you are going to a game, you have an easy opportunity to add exercise in to your game plan. Just park a little farther away from the stadium. This way, you add in some extra exercise and exercise is just as important as medication and healthy eating when it comes to controlling blood sugar. We are learning more and more about all the other benefits of exercise as well and it does not require hours in the gym to reap the benefits; the magic number seems to be 30 min. a day of good exercise. Parking a farther distance away from the stadium sometimes has an additional benefit—less traffic congestion getting away after the game.

For more great information on healthy eating and snacking, be sure to come to the Diabetes Management Meeting, Thursday, August 22, at 6 P.M. in the Civic Room at UAB Medical West. If you have diabetes, love a diabetic, or just have an interest in knowing more about the subject you are welcome to attend. There is no charge. This is a community service of our hospital. The program will be presented by the newest member of our staff of clinical dietitians, so come and meet Elizabeth Donahue. You will also gain some great knowledge about enjoying yourself while maintaining good glucose control.