Eating Healthy At Fairs and FestivalsThere are many fairs and festivals during the summer months. This follows a trend that started well over 100 years ago. Food was no doubt served at festivals even before the nation's first state fair, held in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1841. But it was in 1904, at the St. Louis World's Fair, that fairgoers were introduced to the first real ''fast food'' -- hot dogs and ice cream cones that could be eaten as they walked, according to the statefairrecipes.com web site.
Since then, fair food has progressed way beyond caramel apples, corn on the cob, and nachos. There appears to be no end to what can be battered and deep fried -- cookies, candy bars, cheese curds, macaroni and cheese, pralines, chocolate-covered strawberries.
Most nutrition databases don't include fat and calorie values for such foods. But you can count on these foods to have a shockingly high level of fat and calories.
Here are a few tips that can help you make healthy choices at fairs and festivals:
· Make sure you eat breakfast before leaving home.
· Wear comfortable walking shoes to encourage burning off any extra calories you take in. Wearing uncomfortable shoes is not going to lead to additional walking.
· Pack a small insulated cooler with water bottles, fresh fruit, cereal bars, pretzels, nuts, and fresh veggies in it. If you have a healthy snack, you won’t be so tempted to over-do at meal time.
· Scout out all of the food choices before you decide what to eat — by making a walk around the area you will burn more calories, and find out all of your choices, you may be surprised what they are serving. At the Brown County Fair in Wisconsin, one of the food vendors sells fresh fruit cups.
· Try your best to skip the fried foods. Do you really need to try the fried, batter covered candy bars and other assorted foods?
· If you have decided that you really need to try the new fried food, or maybe you haven’t had fried food since the last event, be sure to share or split the portion. Most funnel cakes will probably serve 4 to 6 people.
· Look for a main dish or sandwich that is grilled or broiled. While you aren’t going to get a whole serving veggies by doing it, make sure you have the lettuce and tomato on your sandwich, it all adds up.
· Skip the sundae or large milk shake this year and look for a fruit smoothie made with real fruit. But be sure to get the small size without any whipped cream.