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Eating at the fair: Don't overdo it

August 20, 2011
Kylie Saari - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Cheese curds, french fries, milkshakes, oh my!

Fair food can be a scary prospect for those monitoring their caloric intake, but Carol Koskovitch, registered dietician at Mayo Clinic Health System-Fairmont, says those treats can be enjoyed responsibly.

"It is difficult," she said, "but it can be done."

Koskovitch says there are a few ways fair-goers can prepare to avoid deep-fried temptation and ways to mediate its effects.

First, she says, is to have a small snack before stepping through the gates.

"Fruit or a handful of almonds before you go can help you avoid the food stands right off the bat," she said.

Once on site, when the smells and sights of onion rings, mini-donuts, and funnel cakes assault the senses, a few quick tips will help a fair-goer make healthier choices.

"Go for more protein and less carbs," she said. "Look for a griller or a smoker. They might have grilled meats or vegetables."

Fajitas, gyros or other foods that have vegetables in them are generally good choices, according to Koskovitch.

Even compromising can save precious calories - such as frozen yogurt or carmel apples.

"It is still an apple in there," she said.

In the long run, though, Koskovitch said picking out what treat you really want before you go and then sharing it with someone lets you enjoy the fun of fair food without the belt-busting consequences.

Andrew Alsworth, who has been selling cheese curds and other fried foods at the Martin County Fair for three years, said he has never been asked for nutritional information.

"This is something people eat once a year at the fair," he reasoned.

Renaee Kjaer, who also sells cheese curds, said a lot of people ask her about the ingredients of the food - specifically if there is egg or wheat in the batter, but never about the calories.

Egg and wheat are common food allergies.

Whichever way someone looks at it, food is part of the fair experience. Not including the booths inside the buildings, there are more food vendors than non.

The Martin County Fair has 20 food vendors, and 19 outdoor non-food vendors. About 109 booths are inside the buildings.

Koskovitch suggested drinking a lot of water while wandering the fair for two reasons:?one, it keeps a person from being dehydrated, but also it can fill the stomach and make a person feel less hungry.

Lastly, Koskovitch says those watching what they eat at the fair should remember to exercise.

"Walking, walking, walking," she said. "And wear good shoes."



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