Follow these big game party tips so you can avoid any worrisome flags and enjoy a game-time win.

Watching the big game is half the fun, the other half is the anticipation of the big game party and spending time with your friends. This checklist can make sure you are ready for a safe, healthy and fun game day.

Clean your grill before the big game

Hungry fans are waiting for your famous BBQ and out-of-this-world burgers — but the grill won’t start. This is not the time to pull out the lighter fluid for a quick-fix. Make sure your grill is in good working order and that you have plenty of charcoal or propane on hand.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there are almost 9,000 gas grill fires every year, and 17,000 people end up visiting the emergency room because of injuries. The leading cause is using a dirty grill with a buildup of burned food and soot. Set the grill away from the house and never leave it unattended, even if there are no children or pets at the party. Above all, have your fire extinguisher ready.

Before having a beer, balance the health risks and the benefits

Researchers have found links between moderate drinking and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s also well known that excessive drinking leads to serious health concerns like liver disease and gastrointestinal issues. Additionally, there are some social concerns to take into account like aggressive behavior and driving home post-game. To keep alcohol under control:

  • Make sure you have enough food and encourage your friends to eat often. You don’t want them drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Suggest that the group drink the first half, then switch to nonalcoholic beverages during the second half. This gives guests time to sober up before heading home.
  • Ask people to volunteer to be designated drivers before the party starts to keep everyone safe or offer to pick people up before the game if they don’t mind using a rideshare app to get home. Do you have Monday off? Have an overnight crash pad if possible.

Don’t try to avoid a beer belly by slamming diet sodas

If you think that choosing diet soda will save you calories, think again. A 2015 study found that people who drank diet sodas gained almost triple the stomach fat over nine years as those who did not. Researchers think that when the brain receives “sweet signals,” it gears up for a rush of calories. When the calories don’t come, it possibly triggers overeating to satiate the brain.

Take it easy on the snacks

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Prevent putting on a few pounds by watching not only what you eat, but when you eat it. One study found that nighttime eating predicts weight gain. Another study found that snacks commonly have more calories than main meals.

The average American eats 2.2 snacks a day and receives one-quarter of their total calories from these, according to the USDA. To be a smart snacker, make a plate of snacks for portion control instead of nibbling. Indulge with your favorites, but add in some healthy options like carrot sticks and peanuts. And limit your snacking to early in the evening.

Play it safe if you’re playing football

It’s a tradition at some parties to play pick up football. But remember — it’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cast. Football is a dangerous sport with a high incidence of injury — and broken bones and concussions aren’t reserved just for the professionals. Opt for flag or non-contact football to avoid accidents. Clear the playing field of yard tools, toys, planters and anything else that could cause someone to trip or fall. Additionally, ensure everyone is hydrated before, after and during play.

Take your cue from the champs and remember that the best teams prepare a game plan and follow it.

The primary care physicians at Keck Medicine of USC offer state-of-the-art professional services to patients of all walks of life. If you are in the Los Angeles area, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.

By Heidi Tyline King