Fairs, carnivals, rodeos, and roving amusement parks are popular summer attractions. Rides and raffles may attract the majority of revelers, but fairs and carnivals also are great places to enjoy mouth-watering food.
Fried dough, meats on sticks, pretzels, cotton candy, cheese steaks, and other aromas waft through the air at carnivals. However, fairs have not always been so great for people watching their calories. And while fairs might not be diet-friendly, it’s not impossible to adhere to one’s diet while visiting the fair.
Fill up at home
Prior to heading out to the fair, be sure to eat a filling, healthy breakfast. This will provide ample nutrients and decrease the likelihood that you will overindulge in less healthy fare while at the carnival.
Foods that are comprised of protein and fiber can help you to feel fuller longer. Pack a snack that can provide a boost of energy prior to indulging in any fair foods. Trail mix or a low-calorie protein bar may be enough to tide you over until you leave the fair.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that mild dehydration produces similar symptoms to hunger. If you feel hungry after eating, your body may only need fluids and not food. Therefore, reach for water or a hydrating sports drink (particularly when it is hot outside) as a first step to abating hunger symptoms, especially if you’ve recently eaten.
Choose healthy food vendors
Look for vendors that offer things like yogurt cups, roasted vegetables, lean meats, and fresh fruits. Kabobs that include lean meats that are low in calories can make a great carnival meal. Corn on the cob without gobs of butter also can be a filling snack. Smart dessert options include fruit smoothies, water ice, frozen yogurt, and even a candied apple, which may be rich in fiber. A small dose of cotton candy, which is just 100 calories per ounce, can offer a sweet fix while you avoid deep-fried concoctions. Keep in mind that cheese curds can set you back 650 calories and a funnel cake 720 calories, according to the YMCA. It can take several miles of traversing the fair to burn all those calories.
Watch portion sizes
If you splurge on a treat or two, consider sharing it with a friend or family member to cut the portion size. A single bite of a calorie-rich food can be enough to satisfy a craving.
If you’re heading to a Renaissance Fair, giant turkey legs may be prime for the picking. Those legs, which may contain as many as 1,140 calories, are well beyond the typical poultry portion size of four ounces. Such food is best shared with others.
Pay attention to beverages
Before you fill up on lemonade or visit the beer tent, remember some beverages contain lots of calories. Weigh your options carefully. If you want a cold beer, you may need to skip that chocolate-covered banana.
Fair foods are delicious but often high in calories. Smart choices can ensure dining at a fair does not derail your diet.