Root, root, root for the home team without throwing your diet a curve ball. These salty and sweet stadium snacks pack fewer calories and fat than their competitionBy: Alyssa Wells
Are your ballpark food decisions a swing and a miss? If you’re more concerned about the concession choices than who’s on first, you run the risk of consuming more than a day’s worth of calories and fat before the seventh-inning stretch. Although American’s favorite summer pastime is a ball game, we often treat it like a fried-food festival with stadium seating. Add one of these better stadium snacks to your lineup to avoid an eating upset.
Are you guilty of these secret food habits? They could sabotage your diet
Peanuts are a great source of heart healthy fat, but if it’s game seven, bottom of the ninth, with two outs, two men on base, and your team’s down by two, you’re going to munch through more than a single serving. A half a cup of shelled peanuts contains 414 calories and 36 g of fat, which can take more than 2 hours to burn off on the treadmill, says Jim White, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, VA. Shelling peanuts is a good way to keep calm during a nail-biter, but that anxiety will return when you step onto the scale.
Burn more fat naturally with this simple diet and fitness plan. Find out more!
Take a cue from pro sluggers and switch to sunflower seeds. Like peanuts, sunflower seeds are packed with heart healthy fat, but shelling a quarter-cup serving of these tiny seeds will get you through more innings than the peanuts, and for fewer calories and grams of fat, says White. What’s more, you can still shell your way through a nerve-racking ninth inning while making a huge dent in your daily-recommended intake of vitamin E—just one ounce of sunflower seeds contains 76 percent of what you need.
SEARCH: Health benefits of sunflower seeds
Ice cream sounds like the perfect frosty treat for a scorching summer day spent baking in a stadium. But 1 cup of chocolate ice cream can set you back close to 500 calories and packs almost 11 teaspoons of sugar. Though the dairy in ice cream contains some nutrients, such as calcium and protein, it’s a rookie mistake to order a cone over the next, healthier option.
Make your dessert work for you: 7 sweets that actually fight fat
This mound of colorful ice is surprisingly low-cal with only 30 calories and 5 g of sugar. “You still get to have a sweet snack,” says White, “but it’s mostly ice and actually provides a little extra hydration.”
VIDEO: Blast calories at home with this do-anywhere workout!
When surrounded by greasy burgers and fries, chicken fingers get an undeserved healthy reputation. But at about 100 calories a finger, this deep-fried basket meal quickly turns into a waistline buster unworthy of the big leagues. Add 2 tablespoons of ranch for dipping and you tack on 200 more calories. “If you decide to go with chicken fingers, be careful about the sauce,” says White. “Ketchup, at 10 calories a teaspoon, is a better option than a creamy sauce like ranch or honey mustard.”
Easy ways to cut 100 calories
This ballpark staple is a lightweight when it comes calories—only 214 calories for an all-beef dog in a bun. Top it off with a few squirts of mustard, says White. One teaspoon contains only 3 calories and nearly no fat. If that dog sounds too boring for your taste buds, add 2 teaspoons of sauerkraut for only 5 to 10 more calories. “It surprises a lot of people that hot dogs are pretty low-calorie,” says White. “It’s all of the toppings that pile on the calories. Keeping it simple will save you.”
GUIDE: Choose the healthiest restaurant foods
Greasy chips—strike one. Oily cheese sauce—strike two. More than 1,100 calories, 1,580 mg of sodium, and nearly a day’s recommended allowance of fat. You’re outta here! “People see chips and automatically assume that nachos are a snack,” says White. “But nachos are big enough to be a meal—a large, terrible meal.”
Think you can't eat healthy on a budget? 8 ridiculously cheap (and healthy!) foods
A plain salted pretzel isn’t the healthiest pick, but it’s the lesser of two food evils with fewer than half the calories of nachos. Make it an even better choice by flicking off the giant salt crystals, says White. There is still plenty of sodium in the pretzel dough without the extra dusting of crystals.
Bonus: Watch out for these secretly salty foods!
Cotton candy isn’t a terrible treat when it’s served carnival-style on a stick, but stadiums can pack as many as four puffs of this sticky stuff into a single bag. Each 1 ounce puff contains about 120 calories, and what’s worse is that you don’t feel like you’re eating anything. It’s just too easy to put away 500 calories of pure sugar and still have room for that basket of nachos.
As long as you don’t eat the entire box, Cracker Jacks is a ballpark classic worth enjoying, says White. Half the box of this caramel and peanut-coated popcorn treat has 210 calories and only 3.5 g of fat. Plus the crunchy snack offers a little bit of protein and fiber to help fill you up—a claim its airy, melts-to-nothing rival can’t make. Those kernels in Cracker Jacks are coated with more than 6 teaspoons of sugar, but they’re still a vast improvement over the cotton candy, which is not much more than pure spun sugar.
Want more healthy swap ideas? Try the Eat This, Not That! jumpstart to lose weight without dieting.
Copyright© 2013 Rodale Inc. "Fitbie" is a registered trademark of Rodale, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction, transmission or display is permitted without the written permission of Rodale, Inc.