Fair Food: Tips for Keeping Healthy

In 1904, St. Louis hosted the World’s Fair. Many of you may have heard the story about the ice cream booth entrepreneur who ran out of dishes and spoons for his ice cream and had the waffle maker at the neighboring booth fry up a thick waffle that was rolled up to make a cone. Voila! The ice cream cone was a hit! At this same fair, the idea of putting a hot dog into a bun was conceived, and so we had the first real “fast food” — foods that could be eaten as people walked around.

We’ve added many additions to these two “fair” items through the years. And if you ask many people what the best part about any fair is, they would probably respond, “the food.”

So, if we all like to eat at the fair or any other outdoor event that we may attend, how can we do it and stay healthy? If you are going to the fair or other outdoor event, it might be good to come up with a game plan AHEAD of time. Impulse eating is easy to do, especially if you don’t have a plan. But if you come up with a strategy to include fresh fruit smoothies, grilled meats and healthier snacks, you can enjoy the tastes of the fair and still stay within your eating plan.

  • One way to save on calories (and money) is to pack your own beverages, especially water. When it’s hot and you’re outside and you’re eating, you’re going to get thirsty. If you have your own water and other beverages, like sports drinks or lightly flavored waters along, you can quench your thirst much easier and more economically than if you bought pop at the food stands. Frozen water bottles allow you cold drinking water all day while the ice melts.
  • Another way to save on calories is to buy single servings of an item. Anything that comes in a bucket (cookies and fries come to mind) is going to be more than one serving and it is very easy to eat a lot of them, especially if you don’t want to keep carrying that bucket around. Sometimes there are vendors that provide a “plated dinner” option. That can be a good way to get a more appropriate portion, but isn’t necessarily a low fat option — watch out for the potato salad and pie!
  • Don’t arrive hungry! Have a nutritious meal and plenty to drink BEFORE you head out. It will be easier to resist impulse eating. If you skip breakfast, you will surely overeat and overspend.
  • So, go with a plan and avoid mindless eating. Wherever your plans take you the rest of this summer — be it the ballgame, the local fair or festival, enjoy, eat healthy and be safe.

By Cheryl Rude

Registered Dietitian at Avera Marshall

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