I was channel surfing a couple weeks ago when I stumbled upon Chicago White Sox pre- and post-game host Chuck Garfien giving viewers an inside look at the new menu at U.S. Cellular Field. Since my wife and I plan on going to The Cell this month – and quite a few times this season if the weather behaves (unlike today) – I was intrigued to learn about the newest fare at our home ballpark. When one of the chefs proudly revealed the new Bacon Mac and Cheeseburger, a three-pound banana split in a collector’s helmet that costs $17 and a chicken and waffle sandwich, I was just waiting for her to confirm that my Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance would be accepted at the new cardiologist’s office on the lower concourse.

I’m the first to admit my food choices at ballparks, arenas and stadiums aren’t the healthiest, but I’m pretty sure my cholesterol level spiked just looking at these foods on T.V. But it wouldn’t be fair to just target the White Sox’s new food options, as the shift to oversized, gut-busting food options seems to be in full effect across the Major Leagues. The Texas Rangers sold out (600 units) of their new $7 bacon on a stick on Opening Day, and the Arizona Diamondbacks sold 300 of their new 18-inch “D-Bat” corndogs (for $25 apiece include a side of fries) on the first night.  

That’s a lot of money, and I can’t even imagine how many calories. Why are fans splurging so much at ballgames?

“I think eating and baseball games go hand in hand and have for a long time (i.e. Take me out to the ball game...buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks),” said Natalie Chase, licensed professional counselor and White Sox fan. “I would say that there are plenty of people who go to a game because it is an event (the combination of friends/family, food, drinks, and the game) rather than just simply for the game. It is a happy and exciting past-time and people often pair junk food with happiness and excitement.”

As any baseball fan would understand, it’s also a past-time that can cause plenty of stress and anger. It’s pretty difficult, but not impossible, Chase said, for fans to avoid emotional eating during these moments, as well as during times their team is playing well.

“If fans truly want to avoid overeating, they need to become aware of their triggers (excitement, frustration, happiness, family time, hanging out with friends),” she said. “Once there is some awareness, fans can take some steps to either avoid these triggers, or if it is not possible to avoid them, at least limit their impact. 

  • Eat a meal at home before the game so you do not feel starving once you arrive.
  • Decide on a food limit before going to the ballpark. Tell a friend/family member the limit for accountability purposes.
  • Avoid walking by your favorite food stand over and over. If really excited/frustrated/bored by the game and you start to wave over the soft pretzel vendor, ask yourself if you are actually hungry or just responding to the emotions and environment of the game. 

You need the combination of a desire to avoid emotional eating and being mindful of your own triggers will make avoiding the actual act of emotional eating much easier.”

These sound great in theory, but watching what you eat and counting calories don’t seem to be priorities for baseball fans - no matter the potential emotional, physical or financial costs of this often gluttonous behavior.

About the Author

Matt Beardmore

Matt Beardmore is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger.

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