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Minnesota State Fair — fun sans the stick

Yes you can have a healthy & fun State Fair experience without the stick! #healthygirlsdothefair

loriandsandra-horsebarnThe Minnesota State Fair is home to more deep-fried foods and food-on-a-stick (pork chops on a stick, pronto pups and corn dogs, merlot-marinated grilled lamb on a stick, pickle dogs…) than any other place on the planet!

As a former 4-H’er and farm girl, I practically grew up at the Minnesota State Fair eating things on a stick. Well, actually, that’s not true. Foot long hot dogs, cheese curds and malts at the Dairy building were among my favs and they weren’t on a stick. This love of the “Great Minnesota Get Together” and my history of 12 days of “pigging out” on all things fried, fatty and greasy — on a stick or otherwise — might have something to do with how I got so overweight.

Fast forward 30-40 years and what’s a healthy girl to do when she loves the State Fair, but is beyond tempted by all that fatty, greasy, stuff on a stick?

sandraandlori-atstatefair2016For several years (2010-2012),  while I was in weight-loss mode and losing my weight, I avoided the State Fair and all it’s temptations. That was fine for those few flowerdress-myfav flower-dress-mnstatefairyears as I was focused on my goal and didn’t want to put myself in situations where I would really struggle. And I presumed I’d back some day eating from a stick when I was healthy and fit.

Over the last several years, I’ve been experimenting with doing a healthy state fair with much success.

Let’s face it, eating healthy at the State Fair isn’t easy. But it can be done. It’s critical to focus on all the other parts of the Fair you love, and make sure you go when you are not super hungry or feeling like the food temptations would be too much.

MnStateFair-FlowerDisplaysThis past Friday night, I had the perfect fair going partner in my personal trainer and wellness coach friend, Sandra. We actually did the fair together as healthy girls in 2013 and I blogged about it here.

Like me, Sandra loves the fair and she is one of the few people I know for whom deep battered or fried food is not all that appealing. That’s the good news of living as a healthy and fit girl who no longer eats fried foods soaked in a vat of grease. It honestly doesn’t appeal, it doesn’t make me feel good when I do it, so I keep it out of my diet all together.

So off we went to the fair to walk a few miles, people watch, see the animals, check out the booths in the grandstand, the amazing fresh flower displays at the Agriculture and Horticulture building (my fave) and the fine art. We also ate dinner. Sandra had a great veggie sandwich from a place in the food building I can’t remember the name of (sorry), and it looked delightful. It was served on a fresh pita. Before we left she also had to have her one ear of fresh sweet corn, an annual treat. Yum!

I decided since I had had a perfect day food wise and wasn’t craving anything in particular, I would stick with my fresh turkey from the Turkey booth (sans the bun). Not cheap, but yum! We both treated ourselves to a beer as we wanted to try the new Sweet Corn Summer Ale from Lakes and Legends brewery served at O’Gara’s. We sat for awhile and listened to music and met some new friends. By the way, big thumbs up on the Sweet Corn Summer Ale made with freshly picked MN sweetcorn!

The Minnesota State Fair is so much more than food on a stick. From the daily parades, to free entertainment and music on stages across the grounds, to the art, animals, and even the rides if you love the Midway — there is so much to do that is not centered on food. Did I mention people watching? That’s always my fav.

I have several friends who plan their eating gorge fests at the fair weeks in advance and pride themselves on how much fatty, fried goodness they can eat. I get it! It used to be fun for me, too. Today, I don’t mind seeing their Facebook posts and seeing who can out-eat the other. But I used to have a hard time even hearing the words mini doughnut. And I promise not to post food pics here to tempt anyone who may be in that boat.

In 2013, when I first experimented with a healthy fair experience, I wrote this blog. Check it out and read my tips for keeping it healthy  or at least to a level where you can zip your jeans the next day! Those tips include:

  • Eat healthy by choosing the healthier options (the food finder app is very helpful),
  • Go early in the day when the fair first opens
  • Sample — try just one bite and share the rest
  • Watch what you drink
  • Set a limit if you do have a list of must-have foods.

This year, I would add these tips to my list:

  • Don’t go hungry — try eating before you go to the fair.
  • Drink lots of water as you walk around. It keeps you hydrated and cool on a hot day, and less hungry.
  • Go with a friend and make a pact to keep it healthy, support each other.
  • Plot your healthy strategy in advance and keep each other honest.
  • Stand next to the deep fried candy bar booth and watch them for 2 full minutes toss the oreos into hot grease and soak up the smell (you won’t want to eat them)!

I would love to hear from others who have a healthy fair strategy. Post here or on my Facebook page and share your tips. I hope to be back this week.

#healthystatefairgirls #healthyfair #motivationmonday #mnstatefair2016



A healthy state fair. Yep. (Aug. 2013)

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