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Eating at the concession stand stirs up thoughts of hot dogs and cheese-laden nachos, not necessarily the healthiest choices. An important part of eating healthy is learning how to navigate tricky eating situations, of which concession stands are prime examples. Let's face it: as an athlete; you'll probably have to grab something at the stadium or ballpark at some point, whether for your own game, a friend's or a tournament. (See 3 Simple Guidelines for Healthy Trade-Offs.)
Here are some of my go-to choices—and what I avoid at all cost—when grabbing something at the ball game or my local movie theater. In a style similar to STACK's Pick & Pass feature, here are some of my favorite things to order.
PICK: Grilled Chicken Sandwich or Plain Hamburger
These have adequate protein and do not add to your calorie count with something fried or battered. Plus you are allowed to "dress" your own, so you can go light on the mayo and other high-calorie condiments.
PASS: Chicken Fingers and French Fries
These are breaded and fried, contributing to excess carbohydrates and saturated fat.
PICK: Peanuts in the Shell
Although these are high in sodium, they deliver good amounts of protein and healthy fats that will keep you more full than chips or a candy bar. Also, when you have to shell the peanuts yourself, it helps you slow down your eating.
This can be a whole grain healthy snack with loads of fiber or a giant tub of oiled and buttered corn totaling over 1,000 calories. But it is tempting. Sometimes you can't resist that aroma and satisfying crunch. IF YOU PICK THIS, choose a small size and avoid excess salt and butter.
PICK: Soft Pretzel
The soft pretzel is lower in calories than the following option and lower in fat. The unsalted version is more heart healthy, dropping the sodium from 2,220 mg to 300 mg. To add flavor, dip the pretzel in mustard, which is naturally low in calories. Even better: split it with a friend!
PASS: Nachos with Cheese Sauce
This snack is packed with saturated fats and sodium.
PICK: A Scoop of Ice Cream
Satisfy your sweet craving with a small serving of chocolate ice cream. Ask for a child size and avoid toppings. Be cautious about those virtuous sounding fruit bars and Italian ices, which usually have more sugar.
PASS: Sour Patch Kids and Other Fruit Snacks
Sometimes these are viewed as good snacks, especially if they are "made with fruit." But they are often full of sugar.
Especially on hot days, drink water before purchasing a snack in case you are thirsty and not hungry.
PASS: Soda and Sports Drinks
These provide empty calories leaving you still hungry.
Grabbing a bite to eat after the game? Check out our healthy choices at Wendy's and Burger King.