We took one night off from our Olympics viewing to take in a Braves game. Taking in all of the sights and smells of the ridiculous amounts of food all around me brings about this post. What to eat – or NOT – at the ballpark . . .
Here are a few things I saw:
Cracker Jack vs. Cotton candy
Cotton candy is just sugar that’s been heated, colored and spun into threads with added air. Cotton candy on a stick (about one ounce) has 105 calories, but bagged (two ounces) has 210. Cracker Jack is basically candy-coated popcorn with some peanuts scattered throughout. A box has 420 calories, so the cotton candy is clearly a better deal. If you buy Cracker Jack, you may be happy to know that the box at least has seven grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber.
Hamburger vs. Chicken sandwich
A hamburger with a bun has about 490 calories without even counting cheese or other toppings. A grilled chicken sandwich has only 280 calories — a much better deal. Another alternative, and an even healthier choice, is the four-ounce turkey burger served by Aramark Sports & Entertainment at some stadiums. Some also offer offers salads with a choice of light dressings, although even I admit that doesn’t sound like something fun to have at a ballgame.
Chicken tenders vs. Wrap sandwich
A typical wrap sandwich (six ounces) has 345 calories and is usually the smarter choice, depending on the ingredients. Six ounces of chicken tenders, on the other hand, have 446 calories, not even including the barbecue dipping sauce, which can have as much as 30 calories per tablespoon.
Hot dog vs. Pizza vs. Sausage and peppers
Most stadiums sell about 16,000 hot dogs a day. That’s a lot of hot dogs! A regular dog with mustard is your best bet, totaling about 290 calories: 180 for the two-ounce dog, 110 for the bun, and virtually no calories for regular yellow mustard. Sauerkraut adds another 5-10 calories (two tablespoons), ketchup adds 30 (two tablespoons) and relish, another 40 (two tablespoons). Also, many stadiums serve foot-long hotdogs, which can double the calories in the frankfurter and bun, bringing the grand total to 580 without any toppings. Pizza at the stadium is a bit larger than a typical slice, about one-sixth of a 16-inch pie (rather than one-eighth), which comes to 435 calories per slice. And the sausage-and-pepper sandwich is about the same — 430 calories for five ounces, including the bun.
Super nachos with cheese vs. Fries vs. Corn
A 12-ounce serving of super nachos with cheese (40 chips, four ounces of cheese) has more than 1,500 calories –That’s my whole day’s allowance! You’re better off with a six-ounce serving of french fries at about 500 calories. Corn on the cob, however, is your best option — 80 calories for the corn and about 100 calories for the butter topping. You could even have two (360 calories) and still save 140 calories.
Peanuts in the shell vs. Popcorn vs. Soft pretzel vs. Fruit cup
Nothing says a day at the game better than a bag of peanuts. Stadiums sell as many as 6,000 bags on game days, depending on attendance. The only problem is that an eight-ounce bag has 840 calories, and a 12-ounce bag has 1,260. The upside is that peanuts are high in magnesium, vitamin E, niacin, folate and monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats. The popcorn comes in a huge tub, often heaping with more than 120 ounces, which have roughly 1,500 calories. Your best deal is a plain, soft pretzel (5.5 ounces) at about 400 calories — but stay away from those huge pretzels (seven to eight ounces), which have about 700 calories. However, your best bet, and definitely the healthiest choice, is a six-ounce fruit cup — only 80 calories each. Okay, but really, fruit cup at the ballpark?
Snow cone vs. Draft beer vs. Soda
Even though snow cones use one to two ounces of flavored syrup (at almost 60 calories an ounce), they aren’t too bad compared with other game-time snacks: a 12-ounce snow cone has as many as 120 calories. Beer is not that bad, either, but the draft beer served at the stadium comes in 20-ounce cups, which means about 240 calories. Get a light draft if you can, and you’ll save 60 calories for a 20-ounce serving. Soda is definitely not a bargain at about 230 calories for 20 ounces.
What about healthier options?
Previously, health-conscious baseball fans either had to bring snacks with them or satisfy themselves with basic ballpark fare. Today, many stadium food-service providers, such as Aramark, offer healthier options. For instance, at Atlanta’s Turner Field, you can buy freshly made salads; at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium there’s corn on the cob; at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, you can find frozen yogurt and fruit smoothies; and at Boston’s Fenway Park, enjoy a fresh fruit salad. There are even veggie hot dogs and burgers at Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum and baked potatoes at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park at North Shore. (Source: www.ballparkfoods.com)
- Eat before you leave home so that you’re not starving when you see the vendors selling enticing treats.
- It’s OK to purchase some food, but make sure you also bring along healthy snacks like oranges, apples, energy bars, 100-calorie snack packs, etc.
- Share the snacks — which shares the calories.
- Be realistic about what you buy — don’t overbuy just to have extra. Plus, it’s really expensive!
- Watch out for unconscious eating. When you’re focused on the game, you can consume massive amounts of calories without paying any attention.
- Try not to eat directly from the bag — ask the concessionaire for an extra container or plate and split things up.
I’m thinking you will also want to save a few calories for this: