Believe it or not, while attending a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park — where the usual fare is hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack — it is possible to eat healthy.
You can also sit in the sun without worry thanks to free sunscreen and rack up thousands of steps by walking around. Just ask a group of 25 teachers from New Hope-Solebury School District who visited Citizens Bank Park for a teachers’ appreciation night in May.
Their goal was to find healthy alternatives at a ballpark. They were successful.
“We wanted to try to be healthy at the ballpark, where there’s so much you can do to not be healthy,” says Elizabeth Simon, a certified public nurse for the district.
“I told the group we’d try to do things that are considered healthy,” Simon says with a laugh. “The big joke, of course, was that we would drink light and low-carb beers in the parking lot when we tailgated.”
The search begins
When they arrived — a good way to get exercise is to park far from the ballpark — Simon searched out the healthier options. She admits feeling slightly disappointed when concession stand workers couldn’t come up with any healthy suggestions.
However, her perseverance paid off. She found a black bean burger at a Wayback Concession Stand. However, she warns, “You have to be careful because Wayback is famous for offering a nine-patty cheeseburger that has over 2,200 calories and 61 grams of fat.”
The black bean burger, which is low in fat, carbs and calories while high in fiber, is an obvious healthier choice.
“You almost have to plot yourself out to know what you can eat and what you can’t,” she says.
She found a soft garden taco offered by Wahoo’s, a garden wrap from Philly Fresh and a salad at Harry the K’s. It was necessary to avoid temptations like ice cream stands and carb-heavy types of beer.
“The good news is, depending where you park, you can get in a lot of steps,” she says. Simon logged around 6,000 steps, the equivalent of 2.5 or 3 miles. Using ramps and stairs instead of escalators and elevators helps, she says.
Fun in the sun
“Another thing that is interesting is they do have stands where you can get free sunscreen,” Simon says. “That’s great because it encourages you to put sunscreen on whatever skin is exposed.”
For this you can thank retired Phillies great Mike Schmidt, a Hall of Fame third baseman and skin cancer survivor. In 2017, he teamed with Mayor Kenney, the city of Philadelphia, Independence BlueCross, and the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation to help protect people from the harmful rays.
Now there are 12 sunscreen dispensers around the ballpark. And walking, eating right and slapping on sunscreen make for a healthier experience.
All in moderation
Simon grew up a Yankees fan and recalls eating cheese-drenched nachos at Yankee Stadium. However, current baseball fans are more open to healthier options.
“I do think we are a healthier population than we were 20 years ago,” she says. “The world is becoming much more aware of the importance of living a healthier lifestyle.”
She notes that temptations loom in nearly every corner of a ballpark. She loves funnel cake, but somehow managed to not eat one.
“No matter where you go, you’re going to be tempted,” she says. “It’s hard to leave the park without getting a hot dog.”