State Fair Food: Is There Anything Healthy?

09/16/2012 11:35 am ET

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By Brett Spiegel, Production Editor

The state fair is coming to town! The community is abuzz, the kids are amped and the thought of deep-fried goodies dances in your head. But before you reach for those stretchy pants in preparation for the big event, take a moment to consider a less gluttonous approach. "We have cravings for certain types of food ... Sweets and fried food do have appeal," says Donald Hensrud, M.D., a nutritionist at Mayo Clinic. But why ruin your healthy eating patterns for a fling with deep-fried butter on a stick?

The best thing to do is plan ahead. If you know you want to indulge in all things fried, get an extra workout in before you hit the fairgrounds to compensate for the extra calories to come. Or consider eating a healthy snack beforehand to curb any potential cravings. "'Just say no' is unrealistic," says Hensrud, "a little planning can go a long way."

Make sure to stay hydrated -- dehydration can sometimes be disguised as hunger, especially when you knock a few beers back at the fair. Also, remember to keep your body moving -- walking around the grounds will keep you burning calories. And don't feel guilty about not finishing everything you buy -- if you're full, throw it away -- the extra calories are not helping.

But if you commit to just enjoying yourself completely, don't beat yourself up afterwards. "Have a perspective on things, decide ahead of time and be realistic," Hensrud says. "It's only one day, so forgive yourself and get back on track."

Check out these appetizing lower-fat alternatives.

Is There Healthy State Fair Food?

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