Grab your jersey and get comfortable — it’s time to cheer on your favorite football team! Jenny Craig’s Registered Dietitian, Briana Rodriquez, shares her top picks for healthy football snacks that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Stop feeling bogged down after the big game and give these healthy game day snacks a try — they’re perfect for sharing with your crew!
If you’re following the Jenny Craig program, we have great news: These easy game day appetizers are filled with plenty of Fresh & Free Additions. Check with your coach before making any swaps or changes to your plan to stay on track!
Easy, healthy football snacks
While hefty portions of classic comfort foods typically take center stage during the big game, there are ways to enjoy the day — from the first kickoff to the last touchdown — without spending commercial break counting calories or sidelining your weight loss progress.
Rodriquez devised this clever game day strategy to help you stay on track:
- Eat like you would on any other day. Be sure to eat a balanced breakfast so you’re less likely to overdo it with unhealthy options. An exciting play can make it all too easy to get distracted while eating, so keep an eye on your portions with this handy guide!
- Try to treat your game time like mealtime. Sitting down to a game could mean you’ll be surrounded by food for 3-4 hours, so try building your plate like you would at a regular meal. Start with plenty of veggies, then add smaller amounts of apps and snacks that include lean protein, whole grains and healthy fat.
- Avoid overeating by being mindful about how you feel. Filling up? No need to keep eating all throughout the game. Still hungry? Give yourself some time to digest: It can take at least 20 minutes to feel full.1 (If you do overindulge, don’t be too hard on yourself — it happens! Here’s how to bounce back.)
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Try refilling your glass during commercial breaks and halftime, so you won’t miss a minute of the action.
When you’re digging into dishes of delicious football-ready foods, excess calories from added sugar and saturated fat can add up quickly. So, how many calories are in your favorite game day appetizers, and what nutritious swaps can you make instead?
Check out our top 7 healthy game day appetizers let the games begin!
All calories are approximate.
The MVP: Chips & pico de gallo
Hit the bench: Nachos with meat, cheese and sour cream
1 cup = 285 calories3
A towering pile of nachos stacked high with ground beef, sour cream, and drenched in melted cheese is a game day appetizer with all the right stuff. It’s crunchy, savory and meaty — but there’s a healthier way to enjoy this snack.
First, grab a bag of Jenny Craig Blue Corn Tortilla Chips. Rather than dousing your chips with nacho cheese sauce, go for ¼ cup of low-fat shredded cheese, Rodriquez suggests. Top generously with this easy pico de gallo or sweet and spicy mango salsa and enjoy!
Or, dig into these fully loaded chicken nachos that definitely don’t skimp on flavor.
Photo by vaaseenaa on iStock
The MVP: Homemade hummus or guacamole
Hit the bench: Nacho cheese sauce
¼ cup = 90 calories6
At almost 90 calories per ¼ cup, nacho cheese is basically liquid gold, if you counted calories like currency. Extra fat and calories can come from added oils, which help keep the sauce smooth and dippable. Rodriquez recommends whipping up a batch of hummus or guac, which are good sources of healthy fat and protein.
Trade hot or cold dips filled with butter, sour cream and mayo for lighter, healthier alternatives. Toss chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor for a quick and easy hummus. For a delicious guacamole, mash ripe avocado with lime juice, chopped tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper.
“For extra flavor, you can add some roasted peppers, or even spinach and artichoke to your hummus,” Rodriquez suggests. “Aim to enjoy a tablespoon or two of either dip, and try not to fill up on dips so you can enjoy other food!”
The MVP: Infused sparkling water or iced tea
12-ounce unsweetened sparkling water = 0 calories
12-ounce unsweetened iced tea = 4 calories7
Total calories: 4
Hit the bench: Beer, wine and soda
The calories in alcoholic beverages can add up quickly! It’s one of the reasons why alcohol can hinder your weight loss goals. Swap your brews for delicious nonalcoholic beverages to skip empty calories. Infuse sparkling water with fresh fruit or make double batches of these refreshing iced teas to serve a crowd.
The MVP: A slice of margherita or pepperoni pizza
Hit the bench: Stuffed crust pizza
1 piece of a large stuffed crust pizza with meat = 460 calories11
What’s game day without some pizza? Rather than reaching for a giant stuffed crust slice covered in sausage and pepperoni, a more modest slice of a healthy pizza pie will work better with your weight loss goals. Jenny Craig’s Margherita and Pepperoni Pizzas are just the right portion for a meal — and you won’t miss out on a single bite of cheesy, saucy goodness.
Photo by Maiqui Cordeiro on Unsplash
The MVP: Oven-baked fries
1 cup = 85 calories12
Hit the bench: French fries
1 cup = 170 calories13
They’re salty, crispy and crunchy — and in our eyes, there’s no such thing as a bad baked fry. But when deep frying enters the equation, you’re almost doubling the calorie count, not to mention the added unhealthy fat! Keep things simple by drizzling freshly cut potatoes with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and placing them in an air fryer or oven.
“Zucchini fries, thick-cut carrots and parsnips, garlicky green beans or kale chips are delicious options,” Rodriquez suggests. “Try dipping them into hummus or guac instead of regular potato chips!”
The MVP: Taco salad
Jenny Craig Chicken Street Tacos = 260 calories
1 cup romaine lettuce = 5 calories
Total calories: 265
Hit the bench: Rolled tacos
5 rolled tacos = 320 calories14
Similar to french fries, deep frying is a quick way to add calories to tacos, which can be full of healthy ingredients. Pass on fried rolled tacos for a savory taco salad featuring Chicken Street Tacos. Use the taco shells as your “bowl” or crisp them up to use as a crunchy tortilla topping. All you have to do is add lettuce!
The MVP: Homemade potato bites, buffalo cauliflower and spinach & artichoke dip
Hit the bench: tater tots, buffalo chicken wings, spinach & artichoke dip with mayo
This easy and delicious Game Day Trio is a true triple threat: It’s full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, without sacrificing any amazing flavors (or football spirit). Unlike tater tots, chicken wings and traditional dips that rely on deep fryers and tons of added fat, these healthier recipes focus on fresh ingredients. Make one or all three and wow your guests!
It’s all about balance
When there’s an impressive spread of food at a party, it’s best to choose wisely. Popular game day snacks can pack a heavy calorie punch and make all-day grazing much easier to do. But picking healthier options doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss out, Rodriquez says.
“You don’t have to deprive yourself when you’re out having a good time,” she emphasizes. “Enjoy a balanced plate with vegetables, protein and healthy fat. Pay attention to how much you’re serving yourself, but don’t worry about getting wrapped up in counting how many calories are in every single item.” The most important part is to enjoy the game and your company!
Whether you’re prepping for game day or are looking for simple, healthy options to support weight loss, Jenny Craig can help. Browse our menus and get ready for big, bold flavors that balance nutrition with great variety — no calorie-counting necessary. Get started by booking your appointment with a weight loss coach today!
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig and has written for the health and wellness, tech, and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. They employ an “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoy the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: green apple slices with sunflower butter
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
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