Chowing Down at the Ballpark

Whether it’s a little league field or a new professional stadium, ballpark food options have exploded (and so have the calorie counts). Don't strike out -- try these tips.

Ballpark food isn’t just about hot dogs and Cracker Jacks any more. Whether it’s the little league field or one of those new pro stadiums, food options have exploded (and so have the calorie counts). Don't strike out -- try these tips.

Strike Outs

Hot dogs and beer are classic ballpark favorites. Nowadays you’ll also find pulled pork panini, BBQ ribs, steaks, pizza, fish tacos, margaritas, Bananas Foster and profiteroles (just to name a few). Sure, it may seem obvious that a cheeseburger with fries may be high in calories and fat, but other menu items like nachos, which average 800 calories and 35 grams of fat per serving, or even a package of roasted peanuts may slip under your junk food radar.

Even foods that may seem healthier -- chicken sandwiches and jumbo pretzels -- can tip the scales when it comes to sodium, fat and calories. Some grilled chicken sandwiches with mayo or cheese can have as much fat and calories as a large slice of pizza (and that can be anywhere from 500 to 900 calories!).

A 32-ounce beer, which is small for some stadium cups, has almost 300 calories; the same size soda has about 350. Either way, be mindful of your beverage selections. Bottled water can be almost as pricey as soda or beer, but at least it’s got less calories! (Try bringing your own water bottle to refill at the fountains.) If the game won’t be the same without a soda or beer, go for the diet and light options. (And remember to stay hydrated -- it gets hot out there in the summer.)

Home Runs

The wisest choice is to eat before the game -- that way you save money and calories. But if the food is part of the experience, stick to the basics. Hot dogs (hold the chili and cheese) have about 250 to 300 calories per serving. Some stadiums also offer turkey and veggie dogs -- top them with low-fat condiments like ketchup, mustard or relish. Peanuts have about 6 calories a piece and they’ll keep you occupied for most of the game (they take a while to crack open and eat), but remember to share the bag to keep the fat in check. A half-cup of Cracker Jack weighs in at about 120 calories and 2 grams of fat. But you’ll get way more than a half-cup at the park. Again split it with a buddy. If you’re in the mood for dessert, go for frozen yogurt over ice cream or cotton candy.

Many stadiums have committed to offering lighter options, including salads, fruit cups and sushi rolls. There are even a few baseball organizations partnering with local wellness centers to improve menus. Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic established a program to offer healthy options at the Cleveland Indians' stadium.

Play It Smart
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:
  • Eat before you get there -- at home, en route to the stadium or tailgating in the parking lot. You can control your options then.
  • Stick to just a taste -- slash calories by sharing with friends.
  • Go light on the beer and soda –- liquid calories can add up fast!
  • Forgo the heavy condiments like mayo, cheese and creamy salad dressings.
  • Keep your mouth occupied with sugarless gum and cheering on your favorite player.
  • Bring a snack. Check ahead to see if you can carry in your own nibbles -- like fruit or homemade trail mix.
  • Move around. Don't just wait for the seventh-inning stretch -- get up between innings and walk up and down the bleachers. It will keep you busy and burn off a few calories, too.
TELL US: How do you chow down at the ballpark and still keep things in check?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Ballpark Fun Facts — The Next Iron Chef

Food Network's culinary production team shares what was needed to pull off the ballpark challenge on episode two of The Next Iron Chef.

Ballpark Bites: Favorite Food Finds at the Baseball Game

Don't strike out with your food choices at the baseball game. We tracked down some of the best bites at ballparks from coast to coast.

Gina Neely's Slim-Down

Gina Neely shed 20 pounds in 12 days; find out about the simple lifestyle changes she made.

Team Giada: Down to Three

Hear more from Giada, Bob, Susie and Linkie in her exclusive exit interview.

Creole Crawfish Etouffee — Down-Home Comfort

Etoufee is a succulent, tangy tomato gravy usually made with crawfish or shrimp that traditionally starts with a dark-brown roux. Crawfish and shrimp etoufees are Cajun country specialties.

Shrimp and Grits — Down-Home Comfort

Down-home comfort has caught fire in the last 10 years or so with the classic low-country dish Shrimp and Grits. It’s being served in white tablecloth restaurants from Savannah to Seattle.

Chocolate Meringue Pie — Down-Home Comfort

Some folks like sweets, some folks like chocolate. The chocolate meringue pie is the best of both worlds. Try this on your sweetie for some down-home comfort.

Blueberry Delight — Down-Home Comfort

Blueberries are the Disney version of summer fruit, round and gentle like a bouncing sing-along ball. They bring to mind fingers stained purple-blue, fruity tarts, pies and cobblers, and warm, fresh-from-the-oven muffins.

On TV

The Pioneer Woman

9:30am | 8:30c

Cupcake Wars

10am | 9c

Cake Wars

11am | 10c

Cake Wars

12pm | 11c

The Pioneer Woman

1:30pm | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30pm | 1:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

3:30pm | 2:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

4:30pm | 3:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

5:30pm | 4:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

6:30pm | 5:30c

Chopped

7pm | 6c

Chopped

9pm | 8c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Beat Bobby Flay

10pm | 9c

Beat Bobby Flay

10:30pm | 9:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

11:30pm | 10:30c

Chopped

12am | 11c

Beat Bobby Flay

1:30am | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30am | 1:30c

Mystery Diners

4:30am | 3:30c

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.