How To Eat Healthy at the ACC

The Raptors are on their way to a fourth straight playoff appearance and the Maple Leafs are fun to watch, and may be on the way to the playoffs as well. Combine that with the tons of concerts and events, and you have the Air Canada Centre – an entertainment destination and a fun place to spend an afternoon or night. The only issue with that is when attending any sporting event, finding some healthy food options isn’t exactly easy.

Let’s face it, in Take Me Out To The Ballgame it’s, “buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks…” not, “buy me a protein shake and kale chips.”  The staples at any arena have long been hot dogs, popcorn, beer and ice cream. Not to mention that most arena’s now offer foods that have evolved from the world of state fairs and includes bacon wrapped hot dogs, chicken and waffles on a stick and the ever appetizing pizza cone. These options don’t set you up for an amazingly healthy eating experience.

So what to do, what to do.

We spoke with some of our Fit After 45 experts to get some, well expert opinions, on how one might make it through a game without undoing any of the work you’ve accomplished in the gym and the kitchen over the rest of the week.

Israel Blume is in incredible shape and it’s no accident. It came with a lot of hard work, and he’s not one to sacrifice any of that work on empty calories. To start with, you should approach the ACC like any other restaurant, “The key to healthy eating when dining at a restaurant is to make sure you are consuming as little sodium as possible, no trans fats, keeping starchy carbs (sugar) to a minimum and ordering food that is unprocessed. Sticking to protein with vegetables is a basic strategy to eating healthy.”

Kathleen Trotter , author of  Finding Your Fit and a personal trainer and Pilates specialist, suggests that a lot of getting in and out of a game, enjoying yourself and not causing yourself any issues, health wise, comes with some planning. For starters, “Never get to the event starving. If possible, eat a healthy dinner before you go and then don’t eat there. If you know you are going to eat dinner there than have a healthy snack before you go and then have something small at the event.”

Not eating there is one way to go, but lets face it, games start around diner time, and there isn’t always a good opportunity to get a healthy meal into you.

Again, Trotter’s plan involves planning ahead, “Always look at the menu before you go and decide in ADVANCE what you will eat. When you go there don’t give yourself the option of having anything else. Frame what you decide to eat as “non negotiable” in your head. Other food is off limits.”

So you’re going to eat at the ACC and you’re going to eat there. Now you have dozens of restaurants and food stands to choose from. There are the already mentioned standby’s of hot dogs and popcorn and giant pretzels and pizza, but beyond that, the options may actually surprise you; between the Platinum Lounge, the Hot Stove Club, he Air Canada Club and, if you’ve paid the premium for your seats, there is even in your seat service.

With so many choices, how do you make the most informed choice possible. Israel leans towards some of the more obvious choices, but always with a caveat attached, “seafood- but only if it does not originate from China where antibiotics and toxic chemicals are habitually used in the harvesting process.” He adds, “Fish is a healthy choice but only those that are low in mercury, such as wild salmon. Fish like Tilapia MUST be avoided at all costs. Tilapia will consume any garbage, including toxic chemicals and animal feces which is what they are fed in the Chinese farms where 80 % of the world’s supply originates.”

Both Trotter and Blume agree on a couple of items, “Stay away from fried food, pastas, breads, and heavy sauces. When out, I often get a steak and vegetables or a burger with no bun and a salad. Skip the breadbasket,” says Trotter and Blume agrees, saying, “Avoid any pasta- high starchy carbs ( I mean sugar) with very little nutritional benefits and are the cause of inflammation.”

As for what Blume would most likely eat, “salad- winter garden green. Contains clean vegetables. Use a simple balsamic, olive oil dressing. Most pre made dressings are loaded with sodium, sugar and unhealthy fats.”

Trotter also says that if you are going to indulge, go for it, but apply her rule, “Everyone deserves a small portion of something they love – I call that my “love it” rule, but decide in advance what the treat will be and make sure you have a modest portion and that you ENJOY it. Don’t eat anything mindlessly and only have the treat you have decided on in the future.” Trotter also added, “If you know you are going to have a small treat make sure to do a good workout earlier in the day and make healthy choices during the day leading up to the event.”

So make sure that when you head down to see the Maple Leafs or Raptors that you are simply being as mindful of what you eat as you would be in any other situation, and as a last little bit of advice Trotter suggests, “Always drink water….lots of water. Water helps me feel full, but it also helps to keep my hands busy.”

Go in with a plan, and don’t get derailed by your temptation.


Posted by Lorne Marr.
Lorne Marr is a Toronto-based fitness enthusiast and lifelong advocate of healthy living. He is on a journey to discover the best methods of training and nutrition for athletes and weekend warriors over 45. Connect with Lorne on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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