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Keepin’ It Healthy at the County Fair

The 4th of July holiday has now come and gone, and for us in San Diego, so has the County Fair.

Going to the San Diego County Fair at Del Mar has become a family tradition. We enjoy watching the pig races and local dance competitions, and of course helping our 4-year old daughter find her new favorite ride. – We think she’s easily amused, since the school bus from Torrey Pines High School to and from the fairgrounds always tops her list of favorite “rides”. 

For us, part of the County Fair experience is the food.

The fair is most commonly known for its display of what I refer to as crazy food concoctions. Each year, the vendors seem to be raising the bar. The biggest buzz about the return of the fair is usually about the newest, over-the-top food you can buy. For many it’s the “you’ve gotta try it to believe it” culture that really makes for a “true fair experience”.

Well, having just been to the fair and seen the “latest and greatest” belly-busting, cholesterol-topping foods being offered, I’d like to offer a little friendly advice to any future fairgoers – “sample sensibly“.  Remember that calories are like currency, and if you’re not careful, the county fair may be far more expensive than you bargained for.

It’s estimated that the average indulgent fairgoer eats between 2,000-3,000 calories (a pound of weight gain is 3,500 calories) at the fair.  Given the calories of these fair favorites, you can see just how easy it is to do.

Below are the estimated calories per item and the miles the average person would have to walk to prevent those calories from being a “moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.”


— Fried Snickers (5 oz.): 444 calories – 4.5 miles
— Fried Twinkie (2 oz.): 420 calories – 4.25 miles
— Funnel cake (1): 760 calories – 7.6 miles
— Twinkie Dog Sundae: 500 calories – 5 miles
— Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich: 600 calories – 6 miles
— Fried cheesecake (6 oz.): 655 calories – 6.5 miles
— Foot-long hot dog and bun: 470 calories – 4.7 miles
— Giant turkey leg: 1,136 calories – 11.36 miles
— Fried Mac ‘n Cheese: 610 calories  – 6.1 miles,
— Deep-fried blooming onion: 1320 calories – 13.2 miles
— Caramel apple: 300 calories – 3 miles
— Deep fried butter: 810 calories  per stick – 8.1 miles
— Deep Fried Oreo: 490 calories – 4.9 miles 

If avoiding these fair favorites is completely out of the question, then I’d recommend budgeting for your splurge. 

First, you’ve gotta know how many calories you can afford to buy. In other words, how many additional calories are you willing to burn within 1 week of the fair. Estimate that you’ll burn 100 calories per mile, if you walk at a brisk pace( 3.5-4 miles an hour).

Let’s say you’re eyeing the Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich. You don’t think you can realistically walk the 6 extra miles required to burn it off, but you think 3 miles is more realistic. If you’ve gotta have it, I’d recommend eating half the sandwich and throwing the other half away. Don’t save it for later. Get rid of it. Yes, you might lose $3 (assuming the sandwich cost $6), but think of it as $3 or 3 miles. The choice is yours.  

Second, plan to fill up on some healthier foods. Either eat a high fiber- based meal before coming (fiber is filling) or fill up on many of the healthy food options offered at the fair (like grilled veggies – yum!). Remember to drink lots of water. It will help you stay hydrated and to feel satisfied.

The big county fair only comes around once a year, so enjoy yourself. Just have a plan so that the memories of your time at the fair will last forever, but the effect of your food choices do not.

 ABOUT ME: My name is Marlayna. I’ve recently shared my story about why I chose to LIVE MY LIFE WITH INTENTION- my life’s journey towards becoming who I am today (click here to read it). I’m a mother, wife, friend, and a diabetes prevention advocate. I occassionally blog about living a healthy lifestyle.

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