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By: Emily Westlund, Program Coodinator

I recently heard a speaker in the wellness industry who introduced me to a wonderful expression: “All things in moderation…including moderation.” It was a refreshing reminder that sometimes, it’s okay to fall off the wagon. The Minnesota State Fair is, for many people, the perfect excuse to toss moderation out the window and indulge in whatever your stomach desires. It’s easy to talk yourself into it: “The State Fair is only once a year!” “All the walking I do at the Fair will help balance out the calories I eat.” “When else will I have the opportunity to eat bacon ice cream?”

It has taken me many years of State Fair-going to come to terms with the fact that I am not capable of gorging on whatever I want at the Great Minnesota Get Together. I have been practicing good eating habits for so long that I actually don’t like how I feel physically afterward. I used to feel like I had to eat everything on my “must-eat” list in order to have a “successful” Fair outing, but it felt like a chore. One year it finally sank in that I wasn’t actually enjoying it. I had been ignoring what my body was telling me loud and clear: this is too much!

This is both a blessing and a curse. Obviously it’s good that I don’t eat as much of my artery-clogging favorites, but at the same time, I really love food and definitely have a sweet tooth. So I have learned how to balance myself by choosing my absolute favorite fair foods and bidding the rest a regretful adieu. I have also learned that I can be satisfied with even a taste or two of someone else’s treat, which allows me to enjoy more variety without feeling like crud afterward (apart from perhaps feeling like a mooch).

Although this is what my body has taught me, I realize this is not the case for many people. Most have no problem eating their way through the Fair, and because I agree with the statement, “All things in moderation…including moderation,” I have no problem with that. But I do encourage you to assess how you feel as you are putting various Fair foods into your body. Think about portions and consider sharing with a friend or family member instead of attacking it solo. Ask yourself if it’s an absolute must-have, or if it could perhaps be on your list for next year. If your body is protesting, listen to it; if not, enjoy yourself…then hop back on that Healthy Eating Wagon the next day.

My Must-Eat Treats at the Fair

  • French fries (shared)
  • Chocolate shake from the Dairy Building (not shared)
  • Hot dog (but not the foot-long)
  • A mini donut or two
  • A cookie or two from Sweet Martha’s
  • Cheese curds (shared)
  • Water, water and more water…I would rather eat my calories than drink them!