How to not blow your diet at the fair

If you’re considering a few snacks at the fair, the calories will quickly add up.

With more than 30 vendors set up throughout the fairgrounds, it’s hard to resist the funnel cakes, elephant ears or fresh-cut french fries.

With a goal of being a bit healthier, some vendors offer healthier options. For example, the Franklin Community High School FFA is making peach, strawberry banana, and mixed berry smoothies this year to give residents a break from feeling too guilty over their choice of fair foods.

And nutritionists have a few suggestions about how to keep your calorie count a little lower this year.

Instead of walking through the fairgrounds on an empty stomach, experts say to save those extra calories for one or two specialty foods, like deep fried Oreos or fried cheese on a stick. Or balance your high-calorie foods by drinking water at the fair, instead of racking up additional calories through large lemonades, sodas or milkshakes.

When indulging, limit yourself to trying one new food every year or eating only one or two of your favorites, said Stacey Faith, the health and human science educator for Purdue Extension Office in Johnson County.

Eat protein first, since it will fill your stomach for longer, Faith said. Grilled chicken and pork tenderloin are safer options, while sausage or ribs should be avoided since they’re higher in fat, Faith said. You can also look for healthier options whenever possible, such as doubling up on grilled vegetables at a steak sandwich trailer or getting the roasted corn on the cob — without the melted butter.

And just because you want to treat yourself with a once-a-year treat doesn’t mean you should go for the largest size — unless you’re splitting it with friends or family, Faith said. That will save you from regret and stomach pains later on, she said. For example, if someone wants to drink a milkshake, a small or kid-sized will do.

And she suggests you try swapping out a high-caloried food like funnel cake with a caramel apple, which has 300 calories and 1 gram of fat. You still get sweet taste but also one serving of fruit, Faith said.

With specialty treats around every corner, it’s OK to eat one or two of them while at the fair, since it’s a once-a-year thing, Faith said.

“Everyone has those days,” Faith said. “It’s OK to indulge in those things.”

Whatever food choices you make, listen to how your body is groaning throughout the day, Faith said. If you’re feeling sick, don’t overdo it — you can always come back to the fair the next day.

“Be mindful of what your body is telling you,” Faith said.

At a glance

Here’s a look at how many calories you’ll be eating if you snack on these treats:

Highest calorie count

Funnel cake, 760 calories

Deep fried Oreos, 712 calories (4 cookies)

Fried cheesecake, 655 calories (6 ounces)

Lowest calorie count

Cotton candy, 171 calories

Kettle corn, 200 calories (3 cups)

Caramel apple, 300 calories (1 medium apple)

At a glance

To burn about 100 calories, the average person must walk one mile. How many miles you’d have to walk to burn off some traditional fair-food favorites:

Funnel cake: 3 miles

Sno-cone: 2.5 miles

Corn dog: 2 miles

Caramel apple: 1.5 miles

Cotton candy: 1 mile

Tuesday's fair schedule

Here’s a look at what’s going on at the fair Tuesday:

10-11 a.m. — Read–Touch–Taste, children ages 5-7, Heritage Hall

1-5 p.m. — Kids day on the Midway

1 p.m. — Strawberry Baking Contest Judging, Johnson County Extension Office

5-8 p.m. — Cooking demonstrations, Farm Bureau Building

6:30 p.m. — Dumpster Drummers, Concert Stage

7 p.m. — Pedal tractor pull, Farm Bureau back lot

7 p.m. — Horseshoe pitching, west of the fair office

7 p.m. — Battle of the Bluegrass, truck and tractor pulls, Grandstands