When you head to the ballpark, it’s practically a given you’ll want to eat. Baseball games average about three hours, so chances are good your stomach will rumble at some point.
No other sport rivals baseball’s concession stands. Every year, stadiums try to one up each other with creations like taco dogs and chicken funnel-cake sandwiches. If you’re working toward a weight-loss or health goal, ballpark eats might seem off-limits, but you can find plenty of healthy options. Here are 10 dietitian-approved tips to help you navigate ballpark eats.
Snacks like peanuts and Cracker Jack are still baseball favorites without breaking the calorie bank. “Pick and choose what you’re going to indulge in so that you don’t overdo it,” says Lauren Manganiello, MS, RD. “If you want Cracker Jack, then have them and really enjoy them. But don’t have Cracker Jack, plus a hot dog, plus a beer.”
“If you want to have a hot dog, then plan on that day’s breakfast, lunch or dinner to be a lighter meal to account for a more indulgent meal later,” says Mandy Enright, MS, RDN. Oatmeal for breakfast or a veggie-packed salad with a chicken breast for lunch or dinner are great options that are satisfying while not breaking the calorie bank.
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“Have a healthy snack before you go so that you’re not so ravenous you’ll pick up the first thing you see,” says Abbey Sharp, RD. Since lines can be long and concession stands spread out, plan ahead by checking out which food venues and meal options are available.
“Don’t forget to drink your water, too,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition. “This will help you feel full and could help you eat less.”
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At Wrigley Field in Chicago, Enright was thrilled to find a vegetarian Chicago hot dog loaded with vegetable toppings. “I was excited to have a Chicago-style ballpark experience without having to actually eat a hot dog,” she says, adding that you can also get a vegan Philly cheesesteak at Citizens Bank Park.
Ballpark food has come a long way, says Monica Auslander, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian for the Miami Marlins. “If there’s a sushi vendor, getting a plate of sashimi or even a roll (brown rice, ideally) is a good option,” she says. At her home stadium, a kosher stand offers a grilled chicken on rye with sauerkraut, which provides probiotics.
“Peanuts in the shell are a great source of healthy fat, and, since you have to peel them, you’re less likely to overindulge,” says Manganiello, a Mets fan with a private practice in New York. Gorin also likes pistachios for that reason. “Shelling the pistachios helps you snack more slowly, and the shells give a visual cue of how much you’ve eaten.” Plus, pistachios provide healthy fat, fiber and protein to keep you full.
“If you want that hot dog or popcorn, split it with a friend so you can get your fix without overdoing it,” says Sharp, who roots for the Toronto Blue Jays. “Split a soft serve in a cup on a date — very romantic,” adds Auslander.
“Many classic ballpark foods are meat-based” for Paleo eaters, says Enright — but skip the hot dogs. Opt for barbecue or tacos, minus the carbs. Gluten-free can be trickier due to cross-contamination, but this guide can help you find safe options. Plenty of ballparks are incorporating vegetarian/vegan-friendly options — far beyond salads, wraps and burgers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are even hosting a vegan night.
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, but sometimes the time passes slowly — so prevent boredom eating. “Get up and take a walk around the perimeter of the stadium for some movement to avoid sitting and eating for several hours,” says Enright, a Phillies Phan. “You don’t have to wait for the seventh-inning stretch to get some movement!
What’s your favorite healthy ballpark snack? Comment below!