While visiting family this weekend in Milwaukee, I went to the Wisconsin State Fair and WOW, was it ever a challenge to find healthy food! Temptation is literally everywhere – of the deep fried, doused in butter, ridiculously sweet, alcoholic and on-a-stick varieties. I’m personally not a huge fan of fried things anyway, but what was really tough for me were all of the sweets! Homemade fudge, ice cream sundaes, funnel cakes, roasted and sugared nuts, cheesecake, brownies a la mode. You name it – there it was calling my name! Literally everywhere I turned!
So how do you avoid eating something you’ll regret later at a place like this? If you need a little help with resolve, I recommend scheduling a workout a few hours prior to heading to the fair. If you feel those healthy post-workout endorphins at the fair, you’ll be more likely to want to feed your body healthy food rather than eat garbage. You might also consider filling up on a healthy meal at home before you go to avoid feeling tempted. Then you can look for a less offensive snack at the fair if you do end up feeling hungry later.
But, my best advice for those of you who are planning a visit to the fair this summer is to plan ahead what you’re going to eat before you get there. Here’s a helpful review of the top 5 worst foods at the fair, and 5 tasty and healthier alternatives to consider!
Funnel Cake – This is hands down one of the worst foods at the fair. It’s made by pouring batter into hot cooking oil, deep frying it, sprinkling with powdered sugar and often adding additional toppings. According to Calorie King, a funnel cake on its own packs 760 calories and 44 g of fat. Add in ice cream (300 calories for each scoop) plus any chocolate or strawberry sauces and whipped cream and you’re looking at well over 1000 calories. Yikes! A jumbo donut has 900 calories, so not much better.
Deep Fried Vegetables – While the word “vegetables” might make you think you’re eating something healthy, deep fry them and you not only remove the nutrients, but add in a lot of empty calories! Also beware – the types of oils they’re likely to use at the fair are probably hydrogenated oils with lots of trans fats. According to MyFitnessPal, a basket of deep fried veggies contains 760 calories and 75g of fat. A ‘blooming onion’ has 1320 calories – so watch out for that one too!
Nachos – Nachos are a huge temptation for me and for many of us – not only at the fair, but at many popular restaurants, the movies, and the ballpark. According to ThirdAge’s website, the average carnival nachos with cheese contains 860 calories and has 59g of fat.
Giant Turkey Leg – This food tops our list for highest calories at 1140, with 54 g of fat. I have to admit that I was surprised by this one! These gi-normous drumsticks are deep fried with the skin on, which is what makes them so high in calories and fat.
Chili Cheese Fries – These already-deep fried fries are topped with nacho cheese and chili and weigh in at 750 calories and around 40 g of fat.
Top 5 Best Fair Foods
Before I begin this ‘best foods’ list – I must add a caveat. Be mindful of the toppings and don’t be afraid to tell the server what you want and don’t want. A few little tweaks on these can mean a lot less calories.
Baked Potato – A medium sized baked potato on its own has just about 150 calories and no fat. For toppings, stick with sour cream. A tablespoon of sour cream contains 23 calories per tablespoon while a tablespoon of butter contains 102, according to Livestrong’s website. Whatever toppings you choose, ask the server to put them on the side so that you can be in control of your own condiments. If available, add some veggies or chives on top for extra flavor and nutrition.
Roasted Chicken – Make sure you’re getting roasted chicken – not fried! A medium-sized breast is the leanest choice and has around 280 calories. If the skin is on, remove it before eating.
Salted Popcorn – This is a great low calorie snack if you leave the butter off. Add some salt for flavor, and you’ll only be taking in 31 calories per cup and no fat!
Corn on the Cob – No state fair is complete without it! The cob by itself has only about 96 calories, so the rest depends on how much butter goes on. At the Wisconsin State Fair, they dipped the cobs in a vat of melted butter! A better alternative is to ask them if it’s possible to ‘drizzle’ instead or to have a little butter on the side. If not, you can always skip the butter and just sprinkle on some salt. Corn is so tasty in the summer, you might not notice the missing butter!
Caramel Apple – If you HAVE to have dessert go for one of these. These treats have 390 calories with caramel and nuts, but you at least benefit from all of the nutrition in the apple! Choose nut-free for a few less calories.
With a little pre-planning and personal resolve you CAN survive and enjoy food at the state fair without breaking your diet! Don’t forget to drink lots of water to stay hydrated in that summer sun! It’ll help keep you feeling fuller too.
Want some other good suggestions for how to eat healthfully away from home – let’s say, at all of the most popular chain restaurants out there? As part of your eating plan, Athlean-XX for Women comes with our Cheat-ah Sheets which will help you make smart choices when you’re out to eat with family, colleagues or friends! The best part about Athlean-XX for Women’s Nutrition plan is the flexibility. We give you a set meal plan for 90 days if you want it, but you can also just choose from it the meals you like best or make up your own meal plan using our lists of recommended foods. You’ll never be hungry on this meal plan because you’ll be eating healthy, tasty foods 6 times per day! Plus, there’s no need to hide from social situations like trips to the fair or to restaurants – no matter where you eat, Athlean-XX for Women has got you covered with healthy recommendations!