The FAIR-quite possibly the quintessential summertime event. It’s a place where first dates occur, magical memories are created and you can find clowns, magicians, rides, music and…every deep-fried and sugar-coated food imaginable! My fair food diet vice came in three short words. Tom. Thumb. Donuts. To be perfectly honest, I have probably consumed thousands of calories over the years from these sugary-sweetened mini treats. Fair food is notorious for being laden with fat, sugar and calories and we can’t seem to get enough of it! There’s just something exciting about eating food on a stick, deep fried in fat or doused in powdered sugar. Having the occasional indulgence is perfectly normal; however, eating fair food every day of the week might leave you with a few surprises when you step on the scale Monday morning.
Every year, there is a new and improved fried concoction that hits the fair grounds. First there was the fried Twinkie and then came the fried Oreo and fried Klondike bar. While curiosity may lead you to these fried wonders, remember that other popular fair foods are also fried such as the jumbo corndog, fries, elephant ears and funnel cakes. Fried foods are very high in saturated and trans fats.
The American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp recommends consuming less than 15 grams of saturated fat per day and no more than 2 grams of trans fat per day. Following a heart healthy diet is important for everyone, but these guidelines should be strictly applied by persons with heart disease and diabetes. Saturated and trans fats are the types of fats we strive to limit in our diets because they have been found to raise triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels.
Did you know a jumbo corndog and 2 fried Oreos contain a whopping 26 grams of saturated fat and 5 grams of trans fat. That’s more than two days of fat consumption in one snack!
If you’re trying to be somewhat diet-conscience with your fair food choices, there are healthier options available. Grilled meats will contain less trans fat than fried ones. You can almost always find a pork chop sandwich vendor and my personal favorite is the BBQ stand for a pulled pork, chicken or turkey. You can even sneak in a serving of vegetables by adding lettuce, tomato and onion to your sandwich. Vegetable kabobs or fire-roasted corn on the cob also make healthier choices. Fairs can be an excellent opportunity to walk around and get extra physical activity.
Am I telling you to never eat fair food again? No; that would be completely unrealistic and darn right hypocritical of me. Fairs only come around once a year and the occasional indulgence is perfectly fine. What I do want to highlight is the fact that we sometimes lose touch with what moderation actually means. For many people, healthy eating behaviors are thrown out the window come 5:00 on Friday and don’t get picked back up until Monday morning. If your weekends are already filled with high-fat, high-calorie foods from appetizers, pizza, horseshoes, burgers and fries, then it may be a good idea to lean towards the lighter options served out at the fair. For people who generally eat healthy (lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, portion control of carbohydrates) all summer long, having a corndog and lemon shake-up won’t kill the diet.