Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's almost State Fair Time

About a year ago I got an e-mail from my boss, stating that our new Public Relations person wanted someone to write a short post for Facebook on eating healthier at the State Fair.  Apparently she was a transplant to the area and had received quite a shock when she saw the amount of deep fried products available for consumption.  I, of course, volunteered after collapsing in helpless laughter, because, who really does expect to find something healthy at any state fair?  But obviously there are some people who do wish to do as much damage control as possible, so here is a copy of what I wrote:

5 Tips for Healthier State Fair Eating

The State Fair opens this weekend, and many people are ready to indulge in their favorite Fair foods and try some new ones.   People who are nutrition-conscious, however, sometimes feel they have to avoid the Fair altogether or go hungry while watching others enjoy themselves.  If you don’t want to deprive yourself but not completely fall off the nutrition wagon, you can follow these tips:
  1. Plan what you are going to indulge in before you go.  Visit the State Fair website to help determine which foods are your “must haves” and “I-can-do –with outs.”  For example, you might “have” to eat a corny dog because it reminds you of fond childhood memories, but you don’t have the same warm-fuzzy feelings about Blooming Onions.  Forgo the calories of one so you can enjoy the other.
  2. Eat a light meal before you go.  Let’s face it, if you go to the Fair hungry it will be harder to stick to your plan.  A simple meal of protein with vegetables and a piece of fruit is quick to prepare, well balanced, and satisfying enough to hold you over until you arrive at the Fair.
  3. Share items with a friend or family member.  Obviously, eating only half the funnel cake will give you half the calories and you can save money also.  
  4. Look for items that are grilled or rotisseried.  Yes, there are some non-fried items at the Fair!  Once you arrive at the Fair you can walk around the food booths to see what is offered and then make your choices.
  5. Limit liquid calories.  Reach for bottled water more than you do soft drinks or alcoholic beverages.  Sometimes the weather can still be quite warm during the Fair and this will also help you stay hydrated.
Remember too that the State Fair (and Fair foods!) only comes once a year, so you know you can go back to your usual plan after enjoying yourself for a day.  

A few other tips I would add:
  1. Ask yourself if it's really worth it to experience any side effects you might have.  If you are a person who is used to eating much healthier, you might feel quite sick after indulging in certain foods.  Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not on my top ten list of fun things to do, but you have to decide where your limit is.
  2. Make it clear to your Fair companions what you are and aren't going to eat ahead of time, and choose your companions wisely.  Some people feel guilty about their own food choices and might try to give you a hard time; you might not want to eat around that type of person at all, let alone at the Fair!
  3. Get to know some of the farmer's that bring animals there; some of them might sell range fed chickens, grass fed beef, etc during other parts of the year.  You can find healthier sources of meat from a trusted source and support a smaller farmer. 
And I'll repeat what I said above--you don't need to feel guilty about something you eat once a year, just be careful that you stay well enough to enjoy it.

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