How to Enjoy the Best State Fair Food Without Sabotaging Your Diet

Hydration is important. If you’re sick of water, hit up the milk stand instead of ordering a large pop.

It’s that time of year when people around the country gather at state fairs to enjoy the festivities, people-watch and sample all sorts of fried delicacies on a stick. With all the best state fair food at every corner, it seems like an impossible feat to eat healthy at the fair. But with a solid strategy in place, you canenjoy the state fair festivities without sabotaging your healthy diet and still indulge in some of your best state fair food favorites.

  • Look at the food choices before you go. Put together a list of 4-5 healthy options to eat while you’re at the fair, such as corn on the cob (without the butter), salad on a stick or leaner grilled protein cuts like tenderloin or roast. The Minnesota State Fair has a great food finder tool on its website to help with your food list.
  • Craving dessert? Frozen yogurt is a healthier alternative to deep fried candy bars. Top with fruit for an added health kick!

  • Eat a small snack like an apple or a handful of almonds before going to the state fair. You won’t be famished from the start so you’ll be able to make smarter food choices. This is a strategy shared by many. Even Minnesota State Fair headliner Bonnie Raitt confessed to eating a salad before exploring the fair.
  • Hydrate with lots of water. Bring a water bottle with you and drink water as you peruse through the exhibits. With all the high sodium foods you may consume and the heat, it’s easy to get dehydrated.
  • Opt for high protein foods so you’ll feel full longer. Avoid the fried choices or anything topped with cheese, bacon or other dressing. Many fairs offer kebabs and grilled options.
  • Fill up on protein like grilled or charbroiled pork chops. Avoid the fried choices and calorie-laden toppings.

  • Choose your splurges wisely. Many of us wait all year for certain foods we can find only at the state fair. It’s important not to deny yourself anything but try to stick to only a couple items you know you’ll really want and split them with one or two other people. By splitting them with someone else, you’ll still be able to enjoy the foods you want while keeping calories and portion sizes in check.
  • Check your state fair’s websites to see if they offer a “graze day” or any other special events in which vendors offer smaller, sample-sized portions so you can splurge and control your portion size.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes or a pedometer to track how many steps you take. Set a step goal for the day and walk as much as possible to meet (or even exceed) that goal to burn a few extra calories.
  • Take the focus away from food. It’s true that many of us go to the state fair just for the food. But there are so many other non-food related things to do at the fair that are worth checking out. Rather than make food the sole focus, try to explore all the entertainment the fair has to offer.

Order foods that are mostly protein like a turkey sandwich. Skip the bun for an even healthier punch.

Watermelon is a great, refreshing option for eating healthy at the fair


If you indulged a little too much at the fair, you can get back on track the next day. You may feel hungrier than normal for a day or two after you have indulged in your favorite state fair foods. The best strategy is to make sure that you eat enough protein at every meal and don’t skip or skimp on your meals to try to make up for the day before. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day. Zestar will provide you with healthy recommendations to help you get your hunger hormones back in balance.

Remember, you don’t have to avoid all the food vendors at the fair in order to stick to your dieting goals. All it takes is an action plan and making smart food choices to stay on track.

What are the best state fair foods you’ve found that don’t sabotage your healthy diet?


Zestar co-founder and dedicated Zestar app user Joy Solomon was inspired by her weight loss struggles with diet after diet that did not bring results. Guided by her scientific education and extensive medical and health information background (including CEO of IVI Publishing, the creator of the highly acclaimed Mayo Clinic health information website), Joy delved into the science of weight loss to bring Zestar to life. Join her on her weight loss journey as she blogs about tips and insights that can help you be successful on your weight loss journey too. Read Joy's full bio.

2 Responses to “How to Enjoy the Best State Fair Food Without Sabotaging Your Diet”

  1. Andrew Punch August 26, 2012 at 8:22 AM #

    The fresh peach at salty tart produce exchange.

    • Joy August 30, 2012 at 2:05 PM #

      Thanks for sharing Andrew! Fresh peach or any fruit is always a good option at the Fair. I like the fresh fruit bowl from Andre’s Watermelon stand. 🙂

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