We all know that sports stadiums can be a hot spot for frighteningly unhealthy food (one order of large nachos with cheese gets you more than 1,100 calories and 59 grams of fat and those innocent looking ice cream sundaes pack 880 calories and 42 grams of fat) but it's what we don't know that might be the truly scary part. ESPN just conducted a study of health code violations in athletic venues (See how your favorite sports venue stacked up. Check out the results on ESPN.com) nationwide including those hosting the MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL, which found one third of all sports arenas to be in violation of health requirements, serving up unsanitary and unhealthy food.
Unhealthy food environments caused by ill equipped kitchens and the presence of rodents and insects were amongst the violations found during food safety inspections (Sun Life Stadium, where both the Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins play, reported insects and other debris blended into frozen alcoholic beverages at a stand where equipment wasn't being cleaned). Improper food temperatures, which allow dangerous bacteria to thrive, cross-contamination between cooked and raw foods, and a lack of employee hygiene (including hand washing!) also contributed to the prevalence of unhealthy food conditions.
What to do? Use this advice to avoid scary stadium food altogether.
Avoid unhealthy food by…bringing your own.
Whenever possible pack healthy snacks to take with you. Not only do you know how and where the food was prepared, but you'll save a small fortune, too. Try these:
Avoid unhealthy food by…tailgating.
Arrange to tailgate with friends before the game. By cooking your own food at the game, you still get to indulge in your favorite stadium foods and won't feel the need to indulge once you're inside. Just make sure your own tailgate will pass food safety inspections! Try these great tailgate foods:
•6 New Burger Recipes. Healthy and deceptively tasty.
•Quick & Easy Party Foods. A crowd-pleasing favorite made healthy.
•The Superior Chip. Chips with health benefits? See for yourself.
•Spinach Dip. Healthy dip? This recipe makes it possible.
Avoid unhealthy food by…ordering smart.
Prepackaged foods are the way to go. Avoid anything that has to be cooked or directly handled by stadium employees. A few to try:
•Cracker Jack (1/2 cup: 120 calories, 2g fat). Just be sure to share: each package contains 3 1/2 servings.
•Ice Cream Sandwich (1 3.5 oz sandwich: 160 calories, 5g fat). Individually wrapped ice cream sandwiches are portion controlled and a safe bet.
•Peanuts in the shell (1/2 cup: 160 calories, 12g fat). The shells create a barrier against external contaminants, making peanuts a naturally safe snack.
•Bottled water or juice.When it comes to hydration buy bottled. Ice machines and scoops, or lack thereof (your hands don't count, Phoenix Coyotes!) were riddled with mold and bacteria at stadiums nationwide.