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Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Ballpark eats can do serious damage to a diet

By Sarah Spain

Ballpark Food
Ballpark food can be filled with calories. A hot dog and chips may mean a trip to the gym.

It was my inaugural trip to the new Yankee Stadium and I was famished.

After a busy day of running around New York City, I was ready for a cold beer and some ballpark food. Diet be damned, I was going to put something delicious in my belly and I wasn't gonna waste a minute wondering about calories, fat or carbs.

I could already taste the plate of chicken fingers and fries I'd spotted someone carrying earlier. Delicious, crispy chicken fingers and fries. Tasty, golden chicken fingers and fries.

I stepped up to the end of a long line, gazed up at the big board of concession offerings and gasped in horror. Why? WHY?? Why in the name of all that is holy and fried and good would they put the nutritional information of every item right there on the menu, in plain sight?!

I cringed as I located the chicken finger platter on the menu: 810 calories! That's right, nearly a whole day's worth of calories in one measly plate of food. Of course, I couldn't order them & could I? Well, what if I took the long way back to my seat? What if I did some jumping jacks between half-innings or lunged up and down the concourse? Maybe I could even jog back to the hotel after the game.

Pistachios are a smart choice, only 100 calories in 30 nuts.

Of course, I did none of those things. I ate the darn chicken fingers and a few innings (and a few beers) later, I felt like I'd ingested a brick. Sometimes it's worth tossing out the tofu, quitting the quinoa and saying sayonara to the celery, but if you do, you gotta be willing to pay the price (both calorically and digestively).

The morning after the game I sweated it out at the hotel gym, working those fingers and fries off my bootie and thighs. The question is: Are you willing to put in the work so you can indulge on game day, or would you rather skip the junk food and sleep in?

Hit the gym

Here's a quick look at some ballpark treats and the workouts you'd need to do pregame to minimize the damage.

• Bag of cotton candy: 2 oz., 220 calories equals 30 minutes of rollerblading.

• Small snow cone: 270 calories equals 30 minutes of sparring in the boxing ring.

• Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium: 410 calories equals one hour of soccer.

• Salted pretzel: 488 calories equals one hour of rock climbing.

• Schmitter Sandwich at Citizens Bank Park: 906 calories equals one hour of tennis.

• Stadium nachos: 1,101 calories equals 90 minutes of running at an eight-minute mile pace.

•  Nathan's cheese fries at Yankee Stadium: 1,340 calories equals two full hours of swimming.

• The 2-foot long "Champion Dog" at Rangers Ballpark: 3,000 calories?

If the company that runs the Rangers' concessions can't pinpoint an exact calorie count, your best bet is probably to run a marathon. You know, just to be safe.

Guilt-free game day

If you don't feel like hitting the gym before hitting the ballpark, you can always exercise a little restraint and pick a healthier option, like one of these:

• Pistachios (30 nuts): 100 calories. Available in nine parks, including Fenway, they've got fewer calories than peanuts.

• Cracker Jack (1/2 cup): 120 calories. If you gotta get your sugar fix, this classic sure beats a helmet full of ice cream.

• Whole Wheat Edamame Bao at U.S. Cellular Field: 150 calories. A healthy, edamame-stuffed bun will keep your buns from getting overstuffed.

• Chef salad at Yankee Stadium: 241 calories. Salad at a game is pretty lame, but being able to button your jeans sure is nice.

• The Ichiroll tuna sushi roll at Safeco Field: 295 calories. The filling rice and healthy omega-3s in tuna make this worth the calorie count.

Good luck and good eating! Oh and one last thing -- please, for sake of Pete, don't buy a ticket in the all-you-can-eat section. There aren't enough lunges and squats in the world to save you from that.