Fair food: What are you really consuming?

By Lisa Hajjar

The Coastal Carolina Fair only comes to town once a year. But when it does, the rides aren’t the only thing to make people feel a little queasy.

There are three reasons most people go to the fair -- the rides, the people watching, and the food! Each year it seems like they are coming up with a new crazy edible concoction. 2016 was the year of scorpion pizza. This year there was a steak sundae. What will be next?

For the sake of everyone’s health, I personally am thankful the fair is only in town once a year. Because when it is, people go full force with the “fair food." Many go just to eat the different foods that are usually only served in a fair setting. People know how bad the fair food can be -- you see social media posts with a picture of a specific food captioned: “eating diabetes," “food coma," "10 pounds later," “fatty for life," “guilty pleasure," “I’ll work out tomorrow."

I had many new faces in my boot camp class on the Saturday of the fair. They wanted to feel better about eating the fried “deliciousness."

Let’s be clear, in no way am I saying don’t eat any fair food. I am just recommending moderation, and to keep your physical health in mind.

Let’s look at the nutrition of some of the widely-known fair foods. I’m not trying to scare you away from the food or the fair, I just think education is key. These nutrition facts are not specific to the food at the Coastal Carolina Fair -- just remember most fairs serve very similar items and serving sizes.

Keep in mind, according to the USDA, the “average female” should consume about 1,600-2,400 calories per day, and the “average male” 2,000-3,200. Of course this is a wide range and depends on many factors not explained here. I'm providing the numbers here just for a rough comparison.

Who doesn’t like a FUNNEL CAKE, usually covered with powdered sugar, or fruits with added sugar and topped with whip cream! The calorie count of a funnel cake with powdered sugar is about 750. The fat content is 44 grams.

What’s better than an Oreo? A FRIED OREO! You can find it plain, sometimes sprinkled with powdered sugar, and why not add chocolate sauce to the top!

One fried Oreo is about 156 calories, with 10 grams of fat. Let’s multiple that by 5 or 6 Oreos and you are consuming over 900 calories and 60g of fat. That does not include all of the toppings, so keep on adding those calories.

Who wants a regular corndog when you get a BACON WRAPPED CORN DOG! If you’re not familiar, a corn dog is a breaded and fried hot dog on a stick. A bacon wrapped corn dog is rolled in pork and then fried again. The calorie count on these can range between 400-500, based on how much bacon is wrapped around the dog.

FRIED TURKEY LEGS have been around for a long time. But the prehistoric look isn’t one to play with! Of course the legs are a range of sizes, but the average leg contains about 1,200 calories, with over 1,300 mg of cholesterol. The average cholesterol daily intake should be about 300mg per day, so a turkey leg serves approximately four days of cholesterol.

The FRIED BROWNIE may look small and deceiving, the sizes do greatly differ. Many of the brownies are three times the recommended serving size, with the grams of fat well over 250, and calories over 500 and then additional for the toppings!


What is your edible guilty pleasure? Is it pizza, ice cream, cannolis, McDonald's, soda? My challenge for you this week is to figure out what food item you love that has the highest amount of calories or fat content. Take a look at the nutrition label -- calories, fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol, sodium, and serving size of your item. Then, try to figure out a healthier option but something that will still satisfy you! For example if it is pizza with a cheese-stuffed crust, let's now go buy the dough and ingredients for a pizza and make it yourself. This might not only save you money but many calories as well. My guilty pleasure -- ice cream. Over the past year, suppliers have been coming out with healthier versions of ice cream, with higher protein content and fewer calories. Thankfully, many of those new options taste great. Now, when I have my treat, I am consuming about ¼ of the calories I was before and for the same amount!

If you have any questions please let me know! I am more than willing to help anyone think of ideas to consume healthier options!

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Nutritional content for the above items were found on My Fitness Pal online.

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