How to eat healthy at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair


It’s fair time once again! The Elkhart County 4-H Fair returns July 21-29. This year’s event includes showstopping performances by Danny Gokey, Martina McBride, Hinder and more, plus plenty of family fun, rides, competitions and, of course, fair food!

While the smell of deep-fried everything might be overwhelming as you enter the fairgrounds, don’t be tempted to throw healthy eating out the window. Give your arteries a break by making better food choices at the fair. Here are some healthier options to enjoy instead.

Fruits and veggies  
Head straight to the stand offering fruits and veggies, such as watermelon or corn on the cob. (And we’re not talking deep-fried fruit or fried green tomatoes!) Fresh fruit like apples, oranges, peaches, berries and watermelon are the healthiest choice if you’re trying to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Corn dogs
They aren’t the healthiest option, but if you’re choosing between a cheeseburger patty sandwiched between two buns or a corn dog, go with the corn dog (about 460 calories), or better yet, a plain hot dog without the bun (around 150 calories).

Grab a bag of popcorn that hasn’t been doused in butter, and you’re looking at just about 31 calories.

If you’re looking for something on a stick, go for a grilled meat and veggie kabob. A veggie-only kabob will net you about 125 calories, while one with grilled meat will come in around 350 to 500 calories.

Shrimp cocktail
A small shrimp cocktail without the sugary cocktail sauce packs a protein punch that will give you an energy boost without the blood sugar spike (and subsequent crash) that fried, sugary foods have to offer.

Unsalted and unsweetened nuts of any variety are a great option if you need a pick-me-up or a simple snack you can carry with you while you wander the fairgrounds. One ounce of unsalted peanuts contains just under 170 calories.

Pass on the giant lemonade loaded with sugar and stick with water or unsweetened iced tea instead.

While there are plenty of healthy(ish) options you can enjoy at the fair, your best bet is to pack your own picnic to bring into the fairground with you.

Fresh fruits and veggies, healthy dips like salsa or hummus, sandwich wraps and bottled water or unsweetened tea are simple, healthy foods you can enjoy during your day at the fair.

Before you dig in, here are a few other tips to remember to help you avoid overindulging on foods that will leave you feeling sluggish and stuffed.

  • Stay hydrated. Pack a water bottle for every member of your family and fill it up frequently while you’re at the fair. Drinking water will help you avoid dehydration on a hot day, and it will help keep you feeling satisfied so you’ll be less tempted to overdo it.
  • Eat before you go. Be sure to eat a healthy, protein-packed meal or snack before you head to the fair. You’ll have more self-control if you aren’t starving the minute you walk in the gates.
  • Share. If you do purchase fair food, plan to share with at least one other person. This is the best way to give you a taste of your favorite treat without loading up on the fat, sugar and carbs.
  • Go easy on the sauce. Skip the high-fat butter and sauces and opt for mustard or salsa instead.
  • Sit down and slow down. When it’s time to eat, choose your food and find a seat. Sit and savor every bite, practicing mindful eating so you’ll be less likely to overindulge.

While you’re at the fair, be sure to stop by the Goshen Health tent for a free wellness check!