Monday, August 1, 2011

‘Fairly’ Healthy

It seems as though we are at the high point of summer activity, part of which includes fun fairs and festivals! But for individuals looking to loose weight or keep their health on track, it may cause an inner-dilemma. (For others the only dilemma may be deciding between the corndog or the burger!)

If you happen to be one of those looking to navigate concessions row without feeling like you over-did it – read on!

I recently wrote a list of some healthy options for the county fair I currently work at, though due to some restraints I wasn’t able to share the entirety of this. (FYI I work in marketing, not the carnival)

Working for the fair means that once a year I am surrounded by fair food. All day. Every day. For 10 days straight. It’s not always easy, but I do feel better when I make better choices.

The calories, fats and sodium in these fried foods can lead to cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, stroke, inflammation, free radicals (which can lead to premature aging – no!) and feeling way too full!

As some of you might be saying right now, “But it’s only once a year! I gotta have my fair food fix!” And you’re right! If you look forward to getting that delicious corndog at the once-a-year fair or festival in your area – great! A once a year fix is a treat, and when you keep that in mind at the event, you can stave off other temptations. Keep your goal food in mind and savor every bite!

Another idea on the indulgent side is to split it. Pick a gotta-have-it dish and split it with a friend, or two, or three. I don’t know about you, but after finishing a whole funnel cake by myself, I don’t feel as good as it tasted! Pick a dish and split it in order to keep calorie, fat and sodium counts a bit lower, while still getting the flavor.

Or, perhaps you head to the fair for other reasons than food (or are really strong willed) avoid the concession stands. To best be armed for this potential battle, make sure you fill up on a healthy meal before heading down to the event. If the fair allows bringing in food or drink, bring a bottled water or a healthy snack like trail mix.

But for the happy medium, I suggest scouting out all the booths for potential healthy (or at least fairly healthy) items to feast upon. My favorite is the mouth watering corn on the cob! (but I ask for ½ the amount of butter they usually put on) FYI it’s also gluten free! ;)

Some other great items I’ve spotted that are ‘good,’ ‘decent’ or ‘just straddling the fence of over-indulgence’ are:
  • Tacos or nachos topped with lots of veggies and light on the cheese
  • Smoothies with fresh fruit
  • Yummy BBQ chicken (don’t eat all the skin)
  • Burgers loaded with veggies
  • Chocolate-dipped bananas or strawberries
  • Caramel or candy apples (hey, there’s a whole fruit in there!)
  • Gyros with extra veggies light sauce
  • Kabobs over rice
  • Asian broccoli beef with steamed rice (sauce on the side if possible)
  • Fresh brewed iced tea (sans sugar please)
  • Salad with light dressing (if your lucky enough to find a stand offering this beauty)
  • Grilled fish tacos or tacos al pastor
  • Mini funnel cake (3” cake gives you a taste of the good stuff without over indulging!)
  • Popcorn
  • Peanuts
  • Glass of low-fat milk (we have a fantastic 4-H run milk bar at our fair!)
  • Turkey sub sandwich with lots of veggies, light on mayo and cheese
  • Shrimp cocktail!


Get moving!
With so much to do and see at the fair, you are sure to get plenty of healthy movement in!
  • Shoot some hoops in the carnival (and maybe even win a prize for it!)
  • Climb the rock wall
  • Dance to one of the concerts (dancing for just 20 minutes can burn up to 120 calories!)
  • Walk thru the exhibit buildings or through all the vendor stands – maximize your festival experience and net more steps
  • Climb the stairs a couple of times in the grandstands or bleachers
  • Standing in line for a midway ride burns 1-2 calories per minute!

And ladies, the fair is no place for stilettos. Grab the sneakers and get moving!

Above all, fairs and festivals strive to offer a family-friendly and fun experience, so get out and enjoy yourself!

In the end you will hopefully not feel overloaded with grease, will be less likely to loose your lunch in the midway and will feel successful at staying healthy while still enjoying a great summer-time event!

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