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Expand Your Palate, Not Your Waistline

Tips for Summer Festivals

July 18, 2012       Leave a Comment
By: Stacy Sawyer

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The summer festival season is in full swing. Sampling new foods and enjoying old favorites like barbecued ribs, elephant ears and candied apples are a big part of the fun at fairs, neighborhood and community festivals and other summer gatherings.

But with so many delicious options, many festivals attendees may be tempted to overindulge, which can result in feelings of guilt because of a diet gone awry, says the American Heart Association.

But all is not lost. Festival-goers are encouraged to look at the "big picture" when planning and evaluating their diets. Having a plan in place (and sticking to it) can mean the difference between expanding your palate and increasing your waistline.

The American Heart Association' dietary guidelines emphasize the characteristics of the total diet over several days or a week rather than what one eats in any given meal or even on a given day. This allows some flexibility in choosing foods and fits the theme of consuming a variety of foods and reducing guilt from splurging now and then.

But this doesn't mean that everyone heading out to summer festivals and fairs should leave their nutrition pyramids behind. A small amount of research can go a long way. Decide in advance what you will eat and stick with your plan. If you cannot resist a pork chop on a stick, make a decision to share it with someone and choose grilled vegetables and fresh fruit for the rest of your meal.

Healthy Tips for Summer Festivals from the American Heart Association
  • Eat a heart-healthy breakfast or lunch prior to attending festivals. Healthy options include high-fiber cereal with skim milk, fresh fruits, yogurt, egg substitute or whole-wheat toast.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and keep moving!
  • Ride your bicycle or walk to the event. If the festival grounds are too far, drive part of the way and head out on foot.
  • Visit a musical stage and dance away calories.
  • Remember that alcohol is a source of calories and should be limited to a few beverages. Especially in hot weather, alcohol can dehydrate your body and cause dizziness, nausea or other unpleasant side effects.
  • Share portions of high-fat foods.
  • Add extra vegetables such as lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes and cucumbers to sandwiches and burgers.
  • Pack frozen grapes, baby carrots, fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt or other healthy snacks to supplement your meals. You'll save money and calories.
  • Have each member of the family select an entrĂ©e, bring a blanket and share meals along with healthy supplements. Everyone will get to sample a wider variety of foods.
  • Watch out for foods high in sodium. Your body will retain water and you may feel bloated.
  • Remember that corn on the cob dripping with butter should be considered a source of starch and fat - not a vegetable.
  • Put a water bottle in the freezer for a few hours and bring it along.
  • Choose items that are grilled, broiled, steamed or roasted instead of fried.
  • Use skim milk in your latte or cappuccino.
  • A fresh-fruit smoothie made with non-fat or low-fat yogurt will cover one to two of the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • If you plan to stay the entire day, plan your snacking to coincide with your regular meals schedule, eating at lunchtime and then later at dinner.

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    Stacy Sawyer

    Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.

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