Plan Ahead to Eat Well, Enjoy the Fair, Festival Season

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The months leading up to winter are filled with fairs and festivals that many friends and families enjoy before the cold weather hits.

While enjoying these outings, it can be easy to want to enjoy all the tasty treats offered there – funnel cakes, corn dogs, elephant ears, and all sorts of other sweet and deep fried goodies.

Avoid toppings and extras, such as whipped cream, syrups, and sugary fruit sauces.Enjoying fall festivities is no reason to ignore healthy eating habits. The Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC) recommends making healthy choices at fairs and festivals, including:

  • Bring healthy snacks with you, such as veggie sticks or frozen berries.
  • Don’t waste calories on sugary drinks. Bring your own water bottle that you can refill as needed, or seek out a vendor selling unsweetened iced tea or zero-calorie soda.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself feeling fuller longer.
  • Eat a healthy meal before you go, so you’re full when you arrive and less tempted.
  • Explore all the food booths and decide what you’ll have before buying anything. By checking them all out, you’ll get some extra steps in. And by planning your meal first, you’re less likely to splurge on more sweets and fried foods than you should.
  • Look for healthier options as the main part of your meal. Choices could include unique salads, grilled chicken, or roasted lean meats. Pile on non-fried veggies to help yourself feel fuller.
  • Seek out fresh fruits. Melons, berries, and other fruits could be great options to help indulge your sweet tooth.
  • Share unhealthy fair and festival foods among the group you’re with. It’s OK to enjoy a favorite food in moderation, having only a couple bites rather than an entire plate full.

Though Clemson UniversityOff Site Icon (Clemson) supports enjoying fairs and festivals, the school suggests keeping in mind how much walking you might have to do in exchange for some of your favorite treats. Some of Clemson’s estimates include:

  • Caramel apple – 3 miles
  • Corn dog (large) – 4.5 miles
  • Cotton candy – 1.5 miles
  • Fried candy bar – 4.5 miles
  • Funnel cake (6-inch diameter) – 3 miles
  • Snow cone – 2.5 miles
  • Soda (32 oz.) – 2.5 miles
  • Soft pretzel – 3 miles

To help balance out the extra calories and fats you do choose to splurge on with festival and fair foods, the CDC recommends you find ways to get a little more active, such as:

  • Do a few extra laps around the fair or festival – don’t forget to stroll through all the animal barns and craft tents – before you call it a day.
  • Instead of circling for the closest parking spot, venture to the farthest lot from the entrance and park with ease. This will give you a few extra steps on the way in and out.

Both the CDC and Clemson also reinforce that if you do overdo it on the sweets and treats during a fun day out, don’t let it stop you from your path back to healthy habits.

Everyone stumbles with their healthy choices at times, what’s important is getting back on track and not letting one overindulgent day keep you from making progress in the future.

For more information about healthy fair and festival eating, talk with your doctor or visit to find a physician.

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