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Tips for Heart Healthy Eating During Minnesota Fair Season

Published in Weight Management, Heart & Vascular, For the Health of It, Healthy Eating Tips Author: Danielle Armbrust,RDN,LD

Minnesota fair season is upon us, and many have already started indulging in their favorite comfort foods. It takes the average person roughly 15 minutes of walking to burn off one cheese curd. If you’re trying to eat a healthier diet and make more heart-friendly choices, here are some things to keep in mind before you attend a fair.

Depending on your health goals, you may want to limit your intake of calories, added sugar, fat or sodium. It can be challenging to limit all those things at once, so it’s best to decide what your priorities are.

It may be easier to predict when a food is high in sugar or fat, but it can be more difficult to predict the sodium content in foods.

High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and may contribute to fluid retention. Excess sodium in foods may come from extra sauces, marinades and seasonings.

You can make a few modifications to some foods to limit your overall calorie intake. Choosing a hamburger without cheese, opting out of adding butter to your sweet corn and avoiding added sauces and condiments can make unhealthy choices, a little less unhealthy.

Here are some healthier options available at most local county and state fairs:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Pickles
  • Dipped fruit (caramel apples)
  • Smoothies
  • Fruit or vegetables on a stick (kebobs)
  • Lean protein like turkey or chicken

It’s OK to treat yourself but try not to completely overindulge. It’s a good idea to have a plan and only choose the foods and drinks you really enjoy eating. If you don’t really enjoy a certain food or drink, skip it.

Often people think because they’re doing more walking at the fair, it balances out the extra calories. However, it’s probably not enough walking to burn a significant number of calories.

It’s important to be mindful of the beverages you choose. Many sugary drinks can contain as many calories and sugar as a dessert. Stick with water or look for unsweetened tea. If you choose to order a sweet drink, consider it a treat.

A great way to help reduce the intake of excess calories, sugar, fat and salt is to eat smaller portions. You can accomplish this by looking for food in smaller portions or by sharing snacks with a friend.

Consider only having one meal at the fair. Eating healthier the rest of the day can help balance out a higher-calorie meal.

It’s almost inevitable that you will take in extra calories if you plan to eat at the fair, and that’s OK. The important thing is to be mindful and try to stay on track with your health goals moving forward.

If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment with one of our nutrition experts.