The South Carolina State Fair: Take home memories, not calories

Fall is here and the state fair is rolling into town. Beginning October 8th through October 19, the space we know so well for tailgating will soon be covered with farm animals, games, rides, concerts and all the fried foods we could ever eat. The South Carolina state fair has become notorious for its food whether it be the traditional foot long hotdog or the latest trend in deep-fried anything. There are not many healthy choices at the state fair, however there are a few as well as several ways to enjoy the food without overdoing it.

Many people like to turn to the strategy of eating nothing all day and then bingeing at the fair. Whenever you don’t eat, you are actually slowing your metabolism and you won’t be burning calories the way you should be. Your metabolism is the collective energy required to maintain all of your bodily functions. Essentially, it is the number of calories your body needs to keep your heart beating and all other bodily functions running smoothly. Your body is designed to survive no matter what so if you stop eating, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. When practicing fasting, your body sends out a message that food is scarce so it will hold onto whatever it still has instead of burning it off to make room for new nutrients. That being said, do not starve yourself all day with the intention of making up for your missed meals at the fair. Healthier and more beneficial solutions await below:

  1. Choose the better options. Out of all the food at the fair, about 50% of it is fried. Enjoying fried food every now and again is not terrible; we all need a little treat here and there to keep up sane. However, eating an entire meal of fried food is not okay. Unfortunately, most of the fried foods at the fair are loaded with Trans-fat. Tran- fat increase your lousy cholesterol (LDL), can clog your arteries leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and promotes inflammation in your body. So why not just stay away from the fried foods altogether? Instead of the fried turkey leg on a stick, estimated to contain a whopping 1,100 calories, opt for the grilled chicken wrap or roasted corn on the cob.
  2. Split your food with a friend. A fair favorite is the foot long hot dog and bun. This dog is estimated to contain about 470 calories just for one! This is more calories than most people should eat per meal! Split it with a friend and try adding a side of slaw instead of fries.
  3. Stay away from the crazy foods. If it is not sold in stores or you’re seeing it at the fair for the first time then you probably shouldn’t eat it. Some of the whacky food choices found at our state fair are the Krispy Kreme hamburgers, deep fried Kool-Aid balls and fried butter sticks. If you have that feeling that you probably shouldn’t eat it, then just don’t.
  4. Healthier snacks. One way to avoid overdoing it at the fair is to eat a light meal beforehand but allow yourself a snack while at the fair. This way you are not overloading your calories toward the end of the day and feeling sluggish while walking around trying to enjoy all the different vendors. Some good options are roasted/boiled peanuts, soft pretzels (wipe off some of the salt), slaw, lean bison burgers or the previously mentioned grilled chicken wraps.
  5. Drink smart. There are countless unique and fun drinks to grab while at the fair. I promise you it is nothing you cannot live without. Keep it simple and refresh yourself with something you know. The state fair has bottled water, sports drinks and a delicious sugar-free lemonade that will sit much better with you than a Cheerwine float while you’re spinning round and round on the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Eating at the state fair can cause a lot of damage to your waistline but it doesn’t have to. These tips will allow you to enjoy the fair without bringing home all the extra calories with you.


Written by: Micah Owen


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