You don't have to walk very far to find deep fried delicacies at the New York State Fair, but over indulging will require a good amount of walking to burn it all off.
And when deep fried Oreos tip the scales at over 700 calories, a bloomin' onion packs nearly a 2,000 calorie punch and the southern fried chicken donut offers 600 calories of deep fried goodness, it's easy to over indulge. All that walking between the grand stand and the fried dough isn't cutting it.
"You're strolling at the fair. Your heart rate isn't getting up there," explained Upstate Medical Center dietitian and nutritionist Julie Mellen. "Yes, you burn calories, you burn calories just sitting, but you're not going to be able to burn those calories off at the fair."
The average person can expect to burn off 100 calories for every mile of walking. At a strolling fair pace, it could take an hour to cover one mile. So what's out there for those who want to avoid the extra calories?
Donâ??t go in hungry: Itâ??s the same concept as going grocery shopping when youâ??re hungry, except now youâ??re surrounded by sweet, salty, deep fried and immediately available. Eat a healthy meal or snack before heading to the fair and the fried dough booth wonâ??t seem so irresistible.
Look for the grill stands: Several vendors offer grilled cuts of lean meats and fresh vegetables. Butcher Boysâ?? menu features salads, wraps and sandwiches with lean protein options like grilled chicken or London broil. An array of fresh chopped veggies and grilled peppers and onions keep their salads and sandwiches interesting. The Dinosaur Barbeque and Gianelliâ??s Sausage stand offers lean options alongside their heavier staples. A Gianelliâ??s turkey sausage link has just 90 calories and 3.5 grams of fat, while its larger porky counterpart packs 190 calories and 12 grams of fat (100 calories and 6 grams of fat for the small pork link). Their chicken speedies dish is another healthy option for grilled chicken lovers.
Watch the sauce: Not all condiments are created equally. The yogurt and sour cream-based zatziki sauces offered at most gyro stands will add 40-60 calories to your meal. A mayonnaise-based sauce, like ranch, blue cheese dressing or specialty sauce, like Big Kahunaâ??s chipotle mayonnaise, can bump the calorie total up by 100 to 200 calories. Extra toppings like cheese, bacon or even a scoop of mac nâ?? cheese can also tip your once-lean meal into the unhealthy range.
Liquid calories: While we may be mindful of the food weâ??re consuming, calories from beverages are often overlooked. Calories from sodas, beer and wine slushies can quickly rack up. A 20 ounce soda packs in about 240 calories. A 12 ounce light beer is about 110 calories but a specialty beer, like Saranacâ??s Pumpkin Ale is 180 calories per 12 ounce serving. Oh-so popular wine slushies can range from 180 to 300 calories per 10 ounce cup and on a hot day, these cold adult-slushies go down easy. Mellen recommends drinking plenty of water with meals and in between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated and to keep from over doing it on calorie-laden drinks.
Share your fare: As Mellen points out, itâ??s the first and last bite of a dish that you remember. If you do want to try something decadent, share the treat, and the calories, with friends or family and order a moderate portion.
Ultimately, itâ??s about moderation.
â??If youâ??re going to the fair once or twice during fair season and you want an extra treat or another drink, thatâ??s probably not going to make or break your day,â?? said Mellen. â??But if your goal is to go to the fair and eat as many unhealthy things as possible then that can certainly take a toll. Youâ??re not going to burn off those extra calories. Itâ??s best to go about it in a balanced approach. If youâ??re going to have a treat then make sure to make better choices the rest of the day. Walk or exercise a little bit more and eat healthy the rest of the day.â??