10 ways to make healthy food choices at the 4-H fair
Fair food – there's something almost irresistible about those yummy eats. The good news is the food trucks roll out enough choices to satisfy almost any craving. The bad news is it's tempting to overindulge in foods that are anything but healthy for you.
You can enjoy all the fair has to offer and still eat good foods that are good for you. Here are 10 tips to put together an eating plan that lets you indulge in festive treats and keep your health in check.
Bring along a healthy snack
Packing a healthy snack for your trip to the fair is a good way to ensure you add nutritional value to whichever meal you choose. Snacks such as fruits and veggies are easy to pack and will pair well with almost any food item you are in the mood for.
Snack before you go
Don’t want to worry about taking your snack with you? No problem! Give yourself time before you head for the fair to sit down and enjoy a snack. Having a healthy snack before you go to the fair will take the edge off your appetite, and you will be less tempted to opt for larger portions.
Don’t drink your calories
The fair is notorious for sugary lemonades, delicious milkshakes made from whole milk and sweet slushies. These are all tasty options, but if you are planning to enjoy a meal while you’re at the fair and are wanting to keep it on the healthy side as much as possible, try to avoid high calorie beverages. Consider low calorie beverages to pair with your meal such as water or unsweetened tea.
Yes, the fair is known for all its deep-fried foods. However, you can still have delicious meals that aren’t fried and won’t make you feel guilty later. Try substituting grilled or roasted meat, such as chicken kabobs, in for the fried tenderloin. The fair also offers vegetable options that make for great sides, such as roasted corn on the cob – a lighter option than a fried onion blossom.
Go easy on the condiments
A simple way to keep your fair food on the healthy side is to take it easy on the condiments. Condiments such as ranch dressing and mayonnaise are high in added fat and do not add much nutritional value. Salsa is a good option for dressing up your meal without adding empty calories.
Sit down to eat
Sitting down to eat may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about healthy eating habits. However, when you sit down to eat, you instantly cut out the temptation to graze your way through the various food vendors, and you can enjoy your meal in a mindful way.
There’s no better way to practice portion control than sharing your favorite fair food with your family. Sharing allows everyone to sample fair favorites without overdoing it.
Make a food wish list
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the high volume of food vendors at the fair and jump in line at the first vendor you come across. Try making a list of the types of food you know you want to eat before you go, and then give yourself time to scope out vendors who offer the type of food you desire. Most vendors have their menus posted outside of their food truck, making it easier to find the food you are looking for.
Since our appetites tend to be lower in the morning, it can be beneficial to attend the fair in the morning when you are less likely to be tempted by food.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water while you are at the fair will help keep you hydrated and energized as you peruse through the various vendor stands. Water will also help you feel full and curb your appetite.
While you're at the fair, be sure to visit the Head 2 Toe exhibits by Goshen Health located throughout the fairgrounds. It's a fun, safe way to learn more about staying healthy.
Across Goshen Health, our dietitians can help you evaluate your nutritional needs and develop an eating plan tailored to maximize your health. They include: