by Lexi Petronis
Romulo Yanes Cotton candy, candy apples, beer, deep-fried cookies, deep-fried Snickers bars, deep-fried--well, everything else...fairs and festivals may have tasty food, but you can't exactly call it healthy food. But that doesn't mean you can't eat well while you're having fun at one!
Dena McDowell, M.S., R.D., nutritional expert for TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a nonprofit weight-loss support organization, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gave us these ideas:
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Eat first. Makes sense! If it's an all-day festival that you're headed to, start with a breakfast that's rich in protein: peanut butter on toast with fruit and yogurt. Or, if you're going to a nighttime event, have some vegetables, low-fat cheese, nuts, and fruit. The healthy fats and protein will keep you feeling fuller longer (and less apt to reach for the Dippin' Dots).
Make a plan. While lots of fairs and festivals don't let you bring in your own snacks, they do often have lists and maps of vendors, so you can investigate which ones have the healthier options. Look for places that have grilled meats, and nix the fries (go for veggies instead). You'll cut some calories, sure--but you'll also get more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Say "no" to mayo. Some condiments and dipping sauces are full-on calorie and fat bombs. Have just a little--or, ask for them on the side, so you can use as much (or as little) as you want.
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Share. Let's be honest, lots of fair and festival portions are ginormous--there's totally enough to share with a friend. This way, you can still enjoy some of the tastes of the fair--just with fewer calories, less fat, and probably even less sodium.
Don't drink too many calories. Alcoholic drinks can add an extra 100 to 150 calories per serving, but they're not the only culprit of extra calories: Lemonade, fruit smoothies, and soda can all add up. So balance the sugary or alcoholic drinks with water, which will help you stay hydrated and more energetic on those melty festival days.
What are your favorite fair or festival foods? How do you keep from overdoing it?
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by Lexi Petronis