Late summer and early fall tends to be a popular time to attend community festivals and county fairs where I live. Even the cities nearby have events and festivals almost every weekend – all the way from international festivals, like Italian or Irish, to art shows and Rib Fests. Each of us has a different reason to attend these events – it is a tradition, you are participating in an event there, socializing, enjoy the music, purchasing something there — or a favorite of many — love the food!! If you have been working to lose weight or maintain fitness you may wonder how you can attend these events and not overdo it.
Here are a few ideas that may help –
- Make sure you eat healthy in the days leading up to your fair or festival trip, or for your breakfast before you go.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes to encourage burning off any extra calories you take in. The Fashion Police won’t be checking to make sure you have cute sandals on that look great, but kill your feet.
- Pack a bag or 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. I usually freeze blueberries and pack them in an insulated bowl as an easy finger food to carry along.
- Find out if you can refill your water bottle someplace at the festival – you will save lots of money and calories that way.
- 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 one fair I attend there is a group who always sells fresh melon – which tastes great on a hot day!
- Try your best to skip the fried foods. Do you really need to try the fried, batter covered cookie, buckeye, candybar, coke, cheese??
- If you have decide that you really need to try the new fried food, or maybe you haven’t had fried veggies in the four months since you attended your last festival – 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.
- Look around to see if there are any unique salads available. For the last 3 years I have enjoyed a Corn, Blackbean and Tomato Salad at the Ohio Proud Taste of Ohio Cafe at the Ohio State Fair. This recipe is very similar to it: http://www.ohioproud.org/ohioproud/recipes/cornsalad.pdf.
- If you will be attending the fair or festival for several days – try not to overdo every day. A week of overeating can pack back on several pounds that you worked hard to get or keep off.
You may think that the extra walking you do at those fairs and festivals makes up for eating any fried foods or sno-cones – but remember that most of us only burn 100 calories, maybe a little more, for each mile we walk. Do you really want to have to walk over 2 miles to eat fried cheese or 4 miles for the fried candy bar?? You might be able to do it, if you only eat 1 of these items, 1 time – but most of us are tempted more than that.
While it doesn’t have anything to do with food – don’t forget the sunscreen before you head out to the festival too.
Walking off the Midway Munchies, Alice Henneman, University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension, http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftj-j07.shtml.
Walking off Muchies, Janis Hunter & Katherine Cason, Clemson University, http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/dietary_guide/hgic4033.html.
How to Eat Healthy at a Fair, Paula Robinson, University of Illinois Extension, http://web.extension.illinois.edu/regionwc/lessismore/0908news.pdf.
Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.