There is one thing that is certain in professional baseball- it’s a long season. Spring Training starts in early February and the regular season of the major leagues ends in early October. Add on some playoffs (hopefully!) and we are looking at 9 months of baseball games. That is a lot of potential meals at the ball park, even if Ryan is on the road half of the time! So, what can you eat at the game without blowing a healthy lifestyle? Here is a rundown of the calories in your favorite ballpark dishes. The stats may surprise you about what your best choices are!
Home Run Choices- if you are eating a meal at the stadium and wanting to keep some order, I’d recommend two of the Home Run Choices and skip the other options.
- A traditional all beef hot dog. Baseball’s best seller will run you about 250 calories if you include some ketchup and mustard. Although there is a clear lacking of green vegetables, a hot dog has a nice balance of protein and low fat carbohydrates. Be careful about going for the foot long or the monster dog, you can double and even triple your calorie intake! Those are extra bases no one hopes for.
- A light beer. A natural choice to go along side your hot dog at a game for those 21 and up. A beer is light in calories (about 180 calories for a 20 oz drink) but runs the same theme as most ballpark food; white, “empty” carbohydrates. Eat a healthy snack of veggies before the game to fill up and you won’t derail with a Coors or Bud Light.
- A snow cone. This is the winning choice in the sugar factory category instead of crackerjacks or cotton candy. All three choices are high in sugar, which eventually turns to fat on your tush, but a snow cone is only 120 calories and mostly ice. It’s also refreshing on a hot day, which can keep you from craving other foods.
A Team Effort- these are the sneaky little devils that you can tell yourself are healthy, but they turn out not to be. If you make it a team effort and share them among your group, you’ll be able to snack in peace. Passing it around makes you share the calories and will help you realize that you are full sooner.
- Popcorn. The saddest reality for my popcorn loving self. The key here is portion size. The giant bucket (my family’s favorite) has almost 1500 calories and enough sodium to make you float in water. Buy the small size and even then, share with a friend.
- Peanuts. Peanuts are naturally high in calories and fat, but they are the healthy kind. Even still, a 12 oz bag will cost you 1,260 calories. Ouch. Look for unsalted varieties and take out a portioned amount before unconsciously eating the bag yourself.
- Soft Pretzels- not one of my favorites but definitely a top seller at baseball games. A small pretzel (5 oz) is about 400 calories, which isn’t too terrible if you eat healthy things during other meals that day. Stay away from nacho cheese and opt for mustard to really keep yourself in check. Beware of portions here as well! Most stadiums sell jumbo pretzels which are nearly 900 calories!
Strike Outs- if you really want it, eat it and enjoy it. One bad choice here or there isn’t going to kill you. Just be aware of portion size when choosing from this no-no list and again, share with others. Eat healthy, veggie and lean protein based meals before and after eating the strike outs.
- French fries- A six oz portion will only cost you 500 calories; be aware that 6 oz is equivalent to a fast food small or even kid’s size portion. Skip out on extra salt if it’s offered and use condiments like ketchup and mustard, not aioli or nacho cheese.
- Nachos with Cheese. This one takes the cake for traditional baseball cuisine. Loosen up your belt for this 1,500 calorie investment.
- Funnel Cake. Or as I so often hear it called, Fried Dough. That beautiful heap of doughnut looking mess that is covered with a fluffy powder that resembles the Rocky Mountains in December. Keep your sweet tooth in check or you’ll end up consuming 1150 calories that are devoid of nutritional benefit.
Some Helpful Tips:
- If you buy an item that can be shared, share it among your group. You cut down on calories and will be full faster than mindlessly eating it along.
- Be entertained by something other than the food. Watch the game! Pay attention. Or if you don’t want to watch it all (I rarely do) go for a walk around the stadium or talk it up with your friends. Many ballparks in the majors have small museums and historical memorabilia around the stadium that are worth checking out.
- Take a lap before you decide! Companies like Aramark are making an effort to include options for healthy eaters. McCoy stadium here in Pawtucket has turkey burgers, a veggie cup with dressing, and hummus and pita chips. Look for options like fruit cups and corn on the cob that are filling and very healthy. Many stadiums have local favorites as well, like bbq in Kansas City, crab cakes in Maryland, and even sushi in New York! Don’t settle on something before you’ve weighed your options.
- Enjoy yourself! If you only go to a game or two a summer, then go ahead and have your beer and hot dog and enjoy the baseball experience. Rules are meant to be broken every once in a while, just remember to get back on the wagon tomorrow.