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Healthy eating at fairs, fests

Corinne Powell

Corinne Powell

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Updated: September 2, 2012 6:07AM



We are fortunate to have several major festivals and great county fairs in our area.

One thing we all want to do when we get to the event is eat!

Walking by the numerous food vendors, fair attendees might find a plethora of deep-fried foods including the likes of Twinkies, candy bars, Oreos, macaroni and cheese, butter (yes, butter!), pickles, sushi, onion blossoms, corndogs and funnel cakes. Just one serving of many of these deep-fried foods contains enough calories to meet a person’s daily caloric requirement! And, this is not even considering the other somewhat crazy, yet tempting food choices that might be offered, such as chocolate-covered bacon, cotton candy, hot beef sundaes, chocolate-covered popcorn balls, cheesecake on a stick and a famous doughnut burger. Each weighs in at 1,500 calories.

However, with a little planning and knowledge about where to find the healthy options, these fair food classics can still be enjoyed in moderation.

Here are some healthy eating tips to keep in mind when you attend festivals and fairs:

◆ Instead of the extra-large drink, opt for smaller sizes of sugary beverages such as soda, lemonade and sweet iced tea. This will reduce the number of calories you are drinking giving you more flexibility with the calories you are eating. Better yet, choose water, it is calorie-free and will keep you hydrated in the heat.

◆ Avoid grazing throughout the day. Walk through all the food vendors and tents first and select the food items you really want and plan meal(s) accordingly.

◆ Hold the butter on ears of sweet corn and go easy on the salt. You might find that the big ear of sweet corn tastes pretty good without it!

◆ Jumbo turkey legs top off around 1,200 calories so find a friend and share. The same goes for onion blossoms and funnel cakes.

◆ Opt for a baked potato rather than french fries. However, be aware that many of the toppings used to “load” baked potatoes increase the number of calories dramatically. Check out the baked sweet potatoes.

◆ Choose grilled rather than fried meats such as a ribeye or pork chop sandwich.

◆ There may be some calcium-rich foods offered, including grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt and ice cream.

◆ Wear comfortable walking shoes as you will be doing lots of walking. Walking will also help burn some of the extra calories eaten, but remember take plenty of breaks and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

Enjoy the fair and don’t forget to check out the 4-H Building to see what the 4-H members have done. Walk down to the barns and talk with the 4-H’ers about their livestock projects. They are more than willing to talk to individuals wanting to know more about their projects and 4-H.



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