OK, it’s once again time for the annual trek to the 320 acres of fried food on a stick we call the Minnesota State Fair.
For most hearty Minnesotans, a visit to the fair is the one day where fun replaces common sense, where a balanced diet is as foreign as a balanced budget is to congress.
At the extreme risk of being “That Guy,” the fair poses a challenge for folks who really DO have to watch their diet. As a parent of two children with type-1 diabetes, a day at the fair is a constant guessing game of how to insulin dose and carb-cover. Get it wrong, and blood sugars go through the roof and the girls feel sick for the next day. It’s even worse for cardiac patients who have to keep a keen eye on their fat and cholesterol.
The dietitians at Park Nicollet’s International Diabetes Center have put together a wonderful Food Facts list to help us navigate the fair and still have a lot of fun. Under the guise of ‘knowledge is power’ they’ve broken down the calorie, carb, and fat content of most of the major food items.
“They don’t need to derail their diet, they don’t need to feel like they’re stuck outside of the group and not enjoying anything,” said Park Nicollet dietitian Mary Ziotas Zacharatos. “They’re able to eat the things that they like and have more awareness of what their putting in their mouth.”
One of biggest offenders is the Booming Onion. At 1,565 calories it has 186 grams of carb and 84 grams of fat.
“Most people don’t think about it because it’s an onion and it’s got a little bit of batter on it. But it really could derail your diet,” said Zacharatos.
Those fried cheese curds are another food item to be aware of. One little paper tray of those golden nuggets of heaven actually add up to 533 calories, and 34 grams of carb and another 34 grams of fat.
Believe it or not, a better choice is a corn dog. At 210 calories, it only contains 25 grams of carb and ten grams of fat. Zacharatos says it’s a nearly perfect blend of protein, carb and fat for walking around at the fair.
Zacharatos says you don’t necessarily have to avoid some of the higher calorie and carb food items, just SHARE them.
“The best part about the state fair is to go with a whole group of people and just try a bunch of different things. That way you can enjoy everything,” said Zacharatos.