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Mission: Nutrition

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Navigating a Day at the Fair a Healthy Way

Posted by Lisa Peterson -

Happy Illinois State Fair Week! When going to the fair being concerned about eating healthy is rarely a number one priority. Below are a few tips for a healthy trip for a day at the fair:

  • Just like Grocery Shopping, Don't Arrive Ravenous. Eat before arriving at the fair. This may seem silly as many come to the state fair for the food, but eating beforehand decreases the likeliness of overindulging. Enjoy time spent with family and friends, riding carnival rides, visiting the 500 pound cow made of butter, and experiencing interactive exhibits.
  • Sharing is Caring. Worried about overeating at the fair? Split a funnel cake, mini donuts, or cheese curds with family and friends.
  • Stay Hydrated. With all the rides, visiting exhibits, and making endless loops around the fairgrounds, don't forget to drink plenty of water. Thirst and hunger can be mistaken for one another. The last feeling desired at the fair is dizziness or nausea from dehydration.
  • Go for the Grilled or Baked. Just like when eating out, look for items that are grilled or baked rather than fried. This can help cut down on extra fat and calories.
  • Keep the Meal Options Colorful. Check out the vendors who serve grilled vegetable kabobs, and embrace the classic corn on the cob. Watch the extra calories by requesting the corn not be smothered in butter. Look for frozen fruit options, yogurt-fruit parfaits, smoothies, and embrace those delicious summertime favorites like watermelon!

  • No Need for Guilt. Fair time comes around once a year and it is absolutely okay to enjoy a fair classic, like a funnel cake or corn dog. Avoid overindulging by limiting those fair favorites to 1 or 2 items.

  • Don't Forget a Pedometer. The Illinois State Fairgrounds is on 366 acres of land, providing plenty of space to get the recommended 10,000 steps per day in.

  • Avoid the burn. Enjoy the fair while protecting the skin. Put on sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going out to the fairgrounds and reapply every 2 hours to protect skin from sun damage.

Additional questions about what is going to be offered at the Illinois State Fair this year? Check out the Illinois State Fair Website for all things fair related:

Be sure to check out the 4-H exhibits and visit University of Illinois Extension booth in the Illinois Department of Agriculture tent. Visit with educators, learn what Extension has to offer,receive recipes, and enter to win an ipad! Enjoy the beautiful weather and see you at the fair!

For more quick nutrition, physical activity, or wellness tips follow me on twitter! Looking for upcoming programs? Visit our local extension website at:


IDPH: Illinois' Top Doc Issues Five Healthy Tips for the State Fair and other Festivals

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