Walking off the Midway Foods at County Fair
Posted: August 13, 2012
The Somerset County Fair in Meyersdale is fast approaching, and like most people, I love to eat the midway foods: caramel apples, soft pretzels, cotton candy, and funnel cakes are just a few of my favorites. I tell myself it is an annual event, and I can indulge in these favorite foods. In the meantime, I forget that I also like to attend local festivals, amusement parks and fireman’s carnivals during the summer months, where I also give myself the same excuse. The next convincing idea I use to excuse my food choices is that I can probably burn off those extra fair food calories by walking around at the event. Well maybe . . . If I walk up to 1.5 miles for a bag of cotton candy and three miles for a funnel cake!
Big portions with lots of sugar and fat calories characterize many of the foods we traditionally associate with fairs and festivals. For many of us, attending the fair wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without these tasty treats. Some may be once a year foods for us, and we look forward to the funnel cake at the Somerset County Fair. How much exercise does it take to walk off our favorite fair foods? Now you can plan ahead and pace your food choices at the fair with the amount of walking you’ll need to burn off the calories. (I will probably have to park somewhere outside of Meyersdale and walk to the fair!)
According to Alice Henneman, Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator, the following are the approximate distances we need to walk to burn off the calories of some popular midway foods:
Caramel apple: 3 miles Funnel cake, 6-inch diameter: 3 miles
Corn dog, large: 4.5 miles Soft drink, 32 oz.: 2.5 miles
Cotton candy: 1.5 miles Sno-cone: 2.5 miles
Fried candy bar on a stick: 4.5 miles Soft pretzel: 3 miles
So, you don’t want to give up your favorite midway foods? Neither do I. With a little planning, it’s possible to fit in many favorite fair foods.
• Quench your thirst with a small soft drink instead of the larger sizes. Better yet, drink bottled water.
• Share a funnel cake with friends. Everyone will get a taste and no one gets overloaded.
• Plan times when you’ll sit down and eat, rather than graze your way from one end of the fair to the other. It’s hard to keep a handle on how much you’re eating when walking, talking and eating at the same time. (I wonder how many calories I burn up by talking as I can do that very well without much effort.)
• Limit yourself to one treat. Choose reasonable serving sizes of lower sugar and lower fat items for the rest of your foods.
• Dress in comfortable shoes so you’re more likely to walk off some calories. Wear a pedometer and see how many steps you can take at the fair. Make a goal to increase your steps each time you attend the fair as well as when you are not at the fair. One mile equals about 2,000 steps, or around one third of the calories in a typical caramel apple.
• Check out all the food booths before making your selections. Imagine you have a “calorie salary,” and enjoy the foods you like the most for your “salary.”
• Finally, if you do indulge in a little too much, remember to return to a more balanced way of eating the next day. A day or two of overeating won’t affect our weight that much, but weeks of it will! Eating 100 extra calories daily can result in a 10 pound weight gain yearly.
If you have to make a difficult choice as to what midway food you are going to eat, I can highly recommend the ice cream at the 4-H Dairy Bar at the Somerset County Fair. Yes, I am biased, but I do love ice cream and want to support our 4-H clubs. See you at the fair!