In Minnesota, summertime means festivals from small town celebrations to big events like the Minnesota State Fair and the Renaissance Festival. But how can we make the most of these summer mainstays while still maintaining our health? How can we savor the turkey legs, cheese curds, bacon on a stick, deep fried Oreos and giant tubs of chocolate chip cookies that these events offer without tipping the scales and getting off track with our health? And how can we navigate these crowded and often expensive events easily? There are a few steps we can take to manage our trips to these fun festivities to ensure that we aren’t overdoing it at the mini doughnut booth or getting too stressed out over the inevitable hassles they may bring.
1. Park as far away from the event as possible. The long walk to and from the event will burn extra calories and aid in digestion – especially on the walk back when our stomachs are overly full and in need of a kick start.
2. Balance out the deep fried stuff with other foods like fruit kabobs (even dipped in chocolate it offers some nutritional value), popcorn (for the fiber) or fresh squeezed lemonade (lemon aids in digestion and liquids make you feel full so you’ll eat less).
3. Walk the grounds of the event multiple times. The more you walk, the more calories you burn. But don’t have an extra meat-on-a-stick every time you pass the stand!
4. If you suffer from heart, blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases, limit salt and greasy foods. It may not seem as enjoyable, but your health is much more important than eating that corn dog or deep fried pickle. Most festivals have healthier options like fruit kabobs, veggies and grilled chicken dishes.
5. Most festivals, carnivals and fairs feature animals – lots and lots of animals. So walk the barns and spend some time with the other beasts that inhabit the planet with us. Animals are proven to reduce stress and boost our moods so get up close and personal with them.
6. Check out the flower and plant buildings at the state fair. The beauty and scent of the foliage is a reminder to appreciate nature plus scent has a powerful positive effect on mood.
7. Remember – it isn’t the last time you’ll ever eat a certain food – so don’t overdo it. For everything you eat, take your time and savor it. Don’t scarf it down like it’s your last meal.
8. If you’re going to splurge, go for quality over quantity. Only eat the things you really love. You will feel like you’re being pampered.
9. Take a bus or carpool with others. It saves gas, money, time, stress and the environment. Win, win, win, win, win! And don’t forget to dress for the weather!
10. Have fun! Nothing reduces stress like a good laugh so enjoy your time at the event. Don’t let the crowds, weather or traffic stress you out, but instead, enjoy the camaraderie and outdoors.
For more information about the State Fair or Renaissance Festival, please visit their websites at: