5 Healthier Game Day Food Swaps

Holly Riddle

By Holly Riddle


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While game day is all about the football (whether you prefer college or pro), we can likely all agree that there’s a not-so-secret, second favorite thing we all love about Saturdays and Sundays in the fall: game day eats.

Friends grilling at a tailgate party on game day.
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Cheesy, meaty, messy, grilled and absolutely amazing — these are all ways that you could describe typical game day fare. Unfortunately, “healthy” is not usually in the mix.

That said, while you might not usually associate healthy eating goals with game day favorite foods, it is possible to fix up a game day feast that won’t leave you regretful the next day. All it takes is a few simple swaps.

hot artichoke dip

Craving dips? Swap your mayonnaise or sour cream for Greek yogurt

Dips of all kinds make their way to the game day feast, but a lot of dips, despite only being seen as a simple appetizer or snack, are chock-full of fat, calories and dairy. Sure, that all makes a dip tasty, but it might not exactly make you feel great.

If you’re craving a dip that contains a heavy-handed serving of mayo, sour cream, or cheese (as so many do), cut back (or remove entirely) on all three and replace them with Greek yogurt, as this healthier hot artichoke and garlic dip does.

Prefer potatoes? Swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes

Yes, it’s one of the oldest ingredient swaps in the book, but it works. Sweet potatoes just hold a slight edge over regular potatoes, thanks to the extra vitamins and nutrients you’ll find in this orange spud.

So, go ahead and make your loaded fries, but do as this recipe does, and use sweet potatoes. You might even find that you prefer the flavor, especially alongside Mexican toppings like avocado, black beans and pico.

Margherita pizza with whole wheat flour.

Planning pizza? Swap your regular crust for a whole wheat crust

Skip the delivery or the frozen stuff. Homemade pizza is wildly easy to make and infinitely better. However, don’t just make your homemade pizza crust from exclusively regular white flour. Go whole wheat instead. Whole wheat flour, compared to white flour, packs in far more fiber, nutrients and vitamins.

This roasted garlic and tomato pizza requires a whole wheat crust, for an extra side of health benefits.

Mushroom meatballs garnished with parsley.
Elena Hramova/Shutterstock

Meatball subs a must? Swap the meat for mushrooms

Before you chow down on a traditional meatball sub this game day, consider going meat-free for a meal. There are plenty of vegan alternatives to the meatier game day favorites, from burgers to hot dogs to chicken strips.

This sub recipe swaps meatballs made from ground beef or ground sausage for meatballs made with a mixture of breadcrumbs, mushrooms, beans, and a few other ingredients, for a sub that’s still hearty, but oh-so-healthy.

A plant-based burger on a multi-grain bun.
Polina Yanchuk/Shutterstock

Plan to fry up some burgers? Opt for the oven and a meat-free option

Whether you go for full-size burgers or sliders, if you’re pan-frying or grilling your burgers, you could be adding extra, unnecessary oils or fats into the equation. Pop those babies in the oven instead.

Better yet, make your own vegan burgers at home (in case you want to avoid some of the suspicious ingredients in store-bought vegan burgers). This recipe bakes vegan quinoa and kidney bean burgers for a flavorful, delicious and nutritious option.