As fall descends, we begin to pull out our favorite hoodies, put on our boots and find our long lost scarves and gloves buried deep in our drawers. It’s also the wonderful time of year where we may find ourselves at another football tailgate or party at a friend’s house. Tailgating is more than just eating or watching football, it’s a coming together of community; friends and strangers soon to become friends. Just because you are being mindful about what you eat, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and still attend these events. Here are six tips to help you successfully dominate your next tailgate–in a healthy way!

1.Drink! And no, I don’t mean alcohol. Drink an entire water bottle before you even step foot into the party. Often times when our brain sends us signals that we’re hungry, it is really just because we’re dehydrated. Staying hydrated will help you consume less food (and alcohol). So go ahead, hang out with the crew, but keep that water bottle nearby!

2.Eat first. We all know that at a tailgate, the food is never ending! Help get ahead of the tendency to “graze” by eating a healthy meal before you go. This meal should consist of a lean protein, a leafy green veggie and a healthy fat source. This will keep your stomach from convincing you that you’re hungrier than you really are. Remember, socializing with friends and family is not synonymous with eating, the one can be done without the other!

3.Control the supply. Simply put, make sure you bring healthy choices. You can’t rely on others to bring veggies/fruits or other healthy snack options, so to make sure you have those healthy choices available, sign up to bring them yourself. Find a new healthy recipe online you’ve been wanting to try! Trust me, other health conscious friends will thank you for it!

4.Set rules. Set your limits before you even walk into the party or tailgate. Whatever those rules might be. “I’m only going to have 1 beer today, then water the rest of the day” or “I’m going to have 1 small plate of anything I want, but after that, I’m only eating fruits or veggies.” Set that rule for yourself and then stick to it. If you decide beforehand what your guidelines are, you’re more likely to stick with them because you’ve set that goal for yourself in advance.

5.Be mindful. It can be so easy to chat around a bowl of M & M’s and before you know it, poof! You’ve had 10 servings worth and you only intended to come over and grab a small handful. Instead, think about getting a small napkin or plate, putting a few of those items in the napkin and then walk away from the food table. Once the small handful is gone, you’re done.

6.Keep it moving. Stay active as much as possible. Start up a game of catch with the kids or play a game of washers with your friends. The more you’re up and moving about, the less inclined you are to be in food grazing mode. Not to mention, burning a few extra calories never hurt!

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