The Anti-Pigout: How To Find Healthful Food At The Fairs

Resist the temptation!

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There is simply nothing quite as mouthwatering as traditional fair food. Hot dogs, ice cream and fried dough tempt fairgoers at every corner. Name a food to deep-fat-fry, and you will probably find it a fair (even cheesecake). Fortunately, fairs offer so much more than fried food.

If you are watching your waistline you can still sample the finest fair foods without sabotaging your diet. Here’s how.

Review the list of food vendors before you go to the fair. Search for a local restaurant or catering company and check out the menu online. These vendors tend to offer healthier options and cuisine that is unique to the rest of the fair including: salads, smoothies and vegetarian options.

Look for roasted nuts. Nuts are a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates to keep you feeling full. Twenty-four almonds, the amount that fits in the palm of your hand is a low calorie snack that is also rich in heart healthy fats, so buy a small bag and share with friends.

Find a baked-potato vendor. Potatoes are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Choose toppings wisely because this light meal can turn into a calorie bomb. Skip the sour cream and ask for half the cheese to save 200-300 calories.

What does it take to burn 300 calories? The average person would have to walk one hour at 3.5 mph. So grab that FitBit before you go!

Looking for a healthier way to cool off? Try Del’s Frozen Lemonade, which as has only 110 calories in an 8-ounce cup.

At the Big E in West Springfield, don’t miss the Avenue of States, six buildings that represent the states of New England. Here you can step inside each state building to sample local produce, such as blueberries, raspberries and apples. You can also visit the Maine building to try smoked salmon on a stick. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and only 350 calories, this is a healthy choice compared to a smoked turkey leg that weighs in at 1,135 calories.

The bottom line is that you can sample whatever you like as long as you eat it in moderation. So if you buy a higher-calorie food such as a turkey leg or cream puff, share it with friends. Then burn off the extra calories by walking around the fair.

Brenda Viens is a Registered Dietitian at Backus Hospital and Thames Valley Council for Community Action. Visit Backus Hospital’s Weight Loss and Wellness Program or call 860.425.8740 for more information. Have a nutrition question for Brenda? Email her at


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