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Take Me Out to the--Burp!--Ball Game...

By , John “Mr. Bad Food” McGran
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back... on my healthy eating regimen!!!
Last month, 99 of my closest friends and I boarded a couple of buses and headed to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to see the home town Phillies play the Florida Marlins. This week, I am recounting--and regretting--how such a fun recreational outing morphed into a diet-busting melee!
Strike 1!
I packed my cooler with way more beer than water--and I tapped into it way too soon. Sure, beer can be part of a healthy diet. But only when you drink it now and then... and you exercise moderation when drinking it.
Strike 2!
I didn't bother taking healthy snacks on the bus. Then, what normally should have been a two-hour trip turned into a 3.5-hour adventure because of a run-in with a car on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
With little to do to keep occupied while we waited for the police to finish their paperwork, I imbibed with the boys on the back of the bus--and I helped myself to some extra pizza brought aboard by a friend.
Strike 3--You're Out!
I dined at the stadium. Not that there aren't any healthier choices available, but with my head-start of beer--and my complete lack of dieting resolve--I went straight for the fried foods and oversize boxes of Cracker Jacks.
As I said earlier, drinking does not have to be a no-no for the person following a healthy lifestyle. The calories in a few drinks can easily be overcome with a little extra exercise.
It's when you drink to the point that you lose your inhibitions that trouble arises.
Suddenly, those “bad” foods smell oh, so good and your brain tells you that you MUST have them... and you must have them now and often!
Truth is if I had used a little common sense and a bit of restraint, I could have enjoyed the outing without abandoning my diet or suffering so much next-day guilt.
For starters, I should have packed a few healthy snacks like fruit, string cheese and maybe a salad. I should definitely have refrained from drinking alcohol until at the ballpark or maybe on the bus trip home.
I threw caution to the wind and drink on the way, at the game, and on the way home. No need to berate me. I've already beaten myself up for such behavior!
Hindsight is 20-20, but I could have burned off a few calories and kept busy by walking around the stadium a time or two--or maybe 10--and spent more time mulling over souvenirs rather than my next meal! 
At the stadium in Philly I should have sought out healthier food options like a Southwestern veggie burger, vegan chicken sandwich, or a Vedura Salad, which is roasted eggplant, broccoli rabe, roasted red peppers and sharp provolone cheese.
Most ballparks--if not all--offer foods that won't run up your calorie count. Do a little online investigating before your next trip to the ballpark.
Here's something else to chew on: Outings like bus trips to a ballgame are a great way to catch up with friends and fellow fans. In other words, you don't have to eat or drink to excess just because you can. Instead, pass the hours using your mouth for chatting rather than chewing.
That's a lesson I am still trying to master after 51 years. Hopefully, you'll catch on a lot sooner!
And, for the record, the Phillies beat the Marlins 3-0 behind the two-hit pitching of Cliff Lee.
Turns out the Marlins weren't the only losers that day. My diet was easily the biggest loser of all!
What advice do you have for Mr. Bad Food the next time he goes to the ballpark?

John McGran has been a writer and editor for three national diet/weight loss companies since January 2000. And yet, at age 51, the man known as "Mr. Bad Food" is still trying to master the art of eating sensibly and living a healthy lifestyle. Follow John's blog and you just might learn how to ward off the bad habits that derail many diets. He blogs twice a month on 

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Oh man! I'm no help at all...I would have been right there with you! Add a dog and some peanuts and I'm in! Report
The cost of ballpark food is a major concern for me. I can't afford most of the food that's offered. We always bring our own bottled water. Who needs to spend $4 for a stadium bottled water or $8+ dollars for a beer? We also bring our own peanuts. I usually buy a hot dog... what's a baseball game without one? I also try to eat a snack before going... lots of raw veggies to fill me up. Report
Whoa. Wait. What?

Vegan protein option at a ballpark? Wow. I'm not a sports fan in general but I especially would never go to a game due to there being very little in the way of vegan food. I hate sitting around eating carrots, looking like some sort of herbivorous martyr, while others tuck into meals.

I may be fit and healthy but I'm also really into food. ;) I like trying vegan options everywhere. A vegan chik sammy at a ballpark sounds like something I could get behind!

Also, yeah, I'm in the "it's one day" group. I worried/stressed myself into an EDNOS after reaching my goal weight and got way too black and white about calories/food. I'm getting much better after some therapy and stopping calorie counting/starting eating intuitively. Being too rigid can lead to much worse issues than a couple pounds, IMO. Report
You had a lot of courage to write this blog and confess! Kudos to you for realizing how things could have been different. Now the test is the next time you do a similar outing! I hope you feel no self-chagrin next time!! Report
funny that back when we used to have a real baseball team here the 3 times "I" went to the ball game I never ate a thing as I recalll...... Report
As a New Englander - just CAN'T walk past that sausage and pepper sub guy outside of Fenway Park - just can not! I think its bad mojo if you do! Report
My downfall is the trip to Chickie and Petes or McFaddens before the game and Tony Lukes at the park!!!! I look at it like this, I only hit one or two games a year and its my treat to myself (although if I drink more than two or three beers I have no room left for food). Report
How timely. We are headed to a Philly's game next Saturday. And we have a private box/suite with unlimited food. (Nope, not our typical day at a ball park, trust me.)

I don't mind "blowing it" now and then, so long as it is very occasionally. I don't beat myself up over it, so long as I get right back on track the very next day.

Also, I find that if I am in a groove of consistency, then I am satisfied to just have a "taste" of whatever treats my husband or kids are having.

Sorry, but will be rooting for the Padres next week..... Report
In my case its Key Arena for Seattle Storm (WNBA) games. I don't drink, so the beer is not an issue. My sister and I spend the first few weeks of each season scouting the food stands - so far the veggie burger is the healthiest and least expensive option. We're allowed to bring in empty plastic bottles, so we fill our own bottles and save money on that, since its now $4 for a 20 oz bottle! Report
Glad you went to the Phillies and saw a great game. You really missed out on the Veggie Burger - truly one of my favorites there. I will have to look for the Vedura salad the next time I go. We have 3 more games this year as we bought a 6-pack (that is of games not beer) to see this year. I usually buy the veggie burger, whole grain sprouted pretzels, and lots of water (actually we bring in the water bottles) and have a good time enjoying the game and people watching. Glad you realize you had an off day and are striving to do better each day. Hopefully Penn State has some healthy choices for you. Report
No more games this season (but Penn State football isn't that far off). I will have plenty of adventures to share with you all over the next few months... so look for my blogs every other Wednesday! I need this kind of feedback to help me get the right mindset for the long haul! Report
shoulda, woulda, coulda!!! Thats me so many times. You got back on track and thats what counts. Good for you! Report
Now this was cute!!! Okay, I should not have said CUTE, but very MANLY!!
It IS OKAY to occasionally BLOW the question is did you have FUN? Yes! Did you make a mistake, but moving on? Yes! We have all been there, done that, and LEARNED from it, sooooo MR. BAD FOOD....When's the next game? Smile!!!! Report
Ball games are great--ballpark food and the whole environment are not so great for healthy eating, however! Planning ahead is HUGE for me. I know before I go what I'm going to eat (and drink) there, and I make sure that I do get up and walk around quite a bit to burn some of those yummy calories. And sometimes I do plan on having more that day than normal--an occasional indulgence is part of a healthy lifestyle. Glad you're writing here, Mr. Bad Food! Report
Of course you had to drink a lot. You had to keep up with all the other drunk Phillies fans! ;) I don't know what CBP's policy is on outside food, but in our local NL East ballpark, you can bring in sealed water (1 L max) and personal quantities of food. So, no huge coolers but a couple of sandwiches, some fruit/veggies, granola/nutrition bars, and the like are fine. It makes a real difference in the waistline and wallet. Report
Pack those healthy snacks and practice moderation! Make the game the main attraction, not the food. ;-) Report
My advice for Mr Bad Food is to take me with him. You might get mad at me but I would do my best to find healthy choices and leave the beer home so I would fit in.
Great blog! While I can find healthy alternatives at my local AA and AAA games, it can be difficult to find healthy choices when I visit the rookie league games. Knowing that the food choices are not always the healthiest, I try to plan what I will eat before heading to the park(s) or eating before I go, because I know those hotdogs, brats, popcorn and pretzels are calling my name. Report
What's a closet friend?
Glad you got back on track. Report
What would I tell Mr Bad Food ? I can't believe he paid full price for stadium food !! As we all know, Spark People isn't about deprivation. It's all about moderation and portion control. So, having the occasional beer or hot dog isn't a problem for someone living a healthy life style.

What bothers me is the prices ball parks (any sports venue) charges for their food. If the fat, salt and sugar content doesn't make a person's eye brows go up, the price of that hot dog should ! Maybe prices of food are cheaper at other stadiums, but at Fenway Park... the prices are astronomical.

I'd tell Mr Bad Food if he wants to save money, bring his own treats. Not only will his waistline thank him, so will his wallet.

I think perhaps the hardest "normal eating" truth for most to learn is that an occassional binge IS part of eating normally. While not the most productive thing to do while actively seeking to lose weight, everyone goes for broke like that sometimes--and that is healthy. That is learning the right mental balance--and considering that you USUALLY say NO to less-healthful options, I think it is great that you spent a day enjoying your friends and enjoying the food you were eating. "Should-ing" on your life takes away that joy. And, congratulations for picking right back up where you left off the next day :) Report
Yeah, that ol' coulda, shoulda, woulda after-the-fact remorse. On a spring trip to the fabulous Target Field to see the Twins, after much forethought, I decided it would be just downright UN-AMERICAN to eat healthy at a baseball game!! Sometimes we just need to plan for an unhealthy snack! Report
Boy can I relate to your story... I've been down similar paths so many times!!! What struck me is that you totally (like me) know what you should do... we just have to keep our eyes on the goal! Good luck! Report
When I go to the ballgame with my husband lately, I ALWAYS bring my own food, healthy of course. That way, I am not tempted to go around and see all the "wonderful foods" available. I know for me, I would go nuts eating way more than I should or even want to. My husband may give me a french fry or two, but that has to be enough. I am worth taking care of and I choose to take care of me! Report
Give yourself a break Mr. Bad Food. It was one day and you were at a ballgame. I'm not saying to give up your healthy habits at the drop of a dime, but it's not like you went on a two-week binge. Honestly, ballgames are meant for beer and a a choice or two of ballpark food. (Sorry, I just can't imagine sitting in the stands eating a Vedura Salad!)

Maybe next time find a stance somewhere in the middle - make a choice ahead of time as to how much beer and what food you're going to eat, build it into your calorie count for the day and stick to it. Report
A trip to all 30 baseball stadiums (yep - all 30) was the beginning of my first real weight gain, so I can relate! I am near my all-time high again, and meeting up with friends in Minnesota for a game in August (Target Field is the only stadium that we haven't been to). I don't think you need our advice - you already have it figured out based on your blog! It's all about executing the game plan when the time comes! Go DBacks!
I agree: a water and a hot dog. Mustard only!! I also bring in peanuts but eat them slowly and share with my friends. Report
I keep it simple -- a hot dog and water. We tend to take peanuts and that's extra. I did some calorie checking and the hot dog was the most economic calorie wise. I don't shop the deli stand anymore. (Go Rays) Report
I going to our home town Clippers game tomorrow night. Thanks for the reminder I'm sure I'm going to need it! Report
I agree with YANKS10
You have to LIVE once in a while
THANKS for sharing/confessing
You already know what you know, what you know - you know? I think the beer was the main problem - empty calories and loss of inhibitions. Tomorrow's a new day! Report
My experience has been that your system needs a shock/overload every now and again to help "reboot" your metabolism. Your outing might have helped get your system revved back up, plus it was a morale boost for the fun you had that day, and then you probably were extra careful with your diet for several days afterward. Perhaps it actually did you good! Report
I'm so jealous of you Mr. BadFood! Sounds like it was a great game too! Many a times how I tried to figure out how to stay on track when I'm headin to see the Phils! I didn't know that there were even healthier options, guess I didn't look too far past the Chickie & Pete's fry stand to investigate enough :) Thanks for the tips, don't beat yourself up anymore gotta move on and use lessons learned. Go PHILS Report
You guys are great! Love the comments. And boy do I hope the Phils meet the Yanks in the World Series! My dietary drift was just one day -- but it's been too many one days lately! Wait till you read my next blog about a food shopping trip to Walmart! Report
I got a real bang out of reading your blog, could just visualize the fun you were having. Look at it this way -- you've had your splurge for the month, now MOVE ON TO BETTER THINGS! Report
This sounds like I could have written it! I am actually doing better with my social drinking, but it's really hard when everyone I know is a big social drinker. I am doing a lot better though! Glad to know that someone else has the same diet-busting vice that I do because I also know we can both conquer it with some resolve! Good luck!!!! Report
I guess I'm a terrible person because I just don't see why this is bad. It's one day. You shouldn't beat yourself up over such a great day with friends. Enjoy it, and move on. Report
I would absolutely be in heaven to be able to go to a baseball game at my favorite ball park. One of the highlights is a hot dog and a beer at the stadium. What is 1 day out of how many? I hope you enjoyed the game! Report
Ah, no biggie, Mr. Bad Food. It's important to allow yourself an off day now and then. I eat well and exercise nearly every day, but once a year, at a small writers' convention, I let loose and drink (because, hey, we writers must get our drink on). A few times a year is fine. Every day is bad. Report
Experience is the best teacher and you have learned from this, so dust off your shoes and get back on the trail :) and always forgive yourself so you can move on. Report
i have learned that if i eat a healthy meal before i go to the ball park to see my beloved RED SOX then a fruit salad or grilled chicken sandwich at the park will suffice me for the duration of the game... (and maybe a bite or two of hubby's hot dog and peanuts, lol) great blog that lots of us can relate to!! kat Report
Lighten up John, how many games do you go to a year? You didn"t drink and drive , you had a great time , ( can philly fans have a good time? ) There is always tomorow your guilt has put you back on the Spark or else you would not have bloged about your adventure. See you in the SERIES. Report
Great blog! My advice would be to eat healthy before going! something really delicious! Then, take some healthy snacks like we know we all should! Then treat ourselves to a ballgame treat that is not significant in calories! Stay away from the fried foods but maybe a hot dog or a small back of popcorn! Report
I generally go to a Phillies game about once a year. Last time I am sorry to say I succumbed to a Schmitter. Google it if you want (look at McNally's tavern). At least I had to walk all the way around the stadium before I found it, so I got some exercise in.

I am a long time fan of Mr. Bad Food, and I'm glad he's here! Report
I loved this blog and I bet more people have been in those sneakers than you think, I know I have. Report
At least it sounds like you had fun!!! And it sounds like you learned a little bit in the process. Fix your calorie overload in the next few days. Report
Though he's suited up for quite a few different teams in the diet industry, Mr. Bad Food is always an All-Star! Incidentally, it goes without saying that the Marlins lost the game. Your daughter's softball team could probably take 2 out of 3 games against the Marlins this season. Report
Absolutely LOVE Mr. Bad Food! I'm glad you're blogging on Spark People now.
If you took ME out to the ballgame, we'd talk each other into walking quickly up and down the stairs between each inning. Major League parks have a lot of stairs! It wouldn't solve all our food woes, but it would make us feel a little bit, I mean better. Report