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Back on Track After a Cheat Day at the State Fair

Posted by Stacy Covitz on Sep 15, 2016 7:30:00 AM

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So, you splurged at the State Fair of Texas. Now what? Read our tips to keep one cheat day from spiraling into bad patterns!

You can almost smell the Corny dogs and funnel cakes in the air. 

In just a couple of weeks, the State Fair of Texas will open its gates, and for 24 days, families from around the country will enjoy concerts, livestock shows, amusement park rides, auto shows, even the Clydesdale horses.

And the food. The FRIED FOOD.  For weeks, the featured snacks have been debated and celebrated. The new fried inventions at the State Fair of Texas make headlines around the nation, sometimes around the globe.

There are ways to be healthy at the fair. There are always a few low-fat options, and you can do a good amount of walking. Do a quick internet search, and you’ll probably find lots of ways to be your healthiest self – hopefully you even find this one from Methodist last year. Though the locations may have changed, I bet some of the healthy options still exist.

But sometimes you just really, really want a fried Snickers bar. And a fried peanut butter and jelly.

Unless your healthcare provider has told you otherwise, a splurge day every now and then isn’t terrible. Barring any specific health conditions, you won’t destroy your health by giving in to temptation and enjoying the “sometimes foods” while you stare up at Big Tex. The key – not letting that one splurge day turn into a splurge weekend, splurge week, splurge month.

Methodist Health System registered dietitian Caroline Susie and fitness supervisor Ginnie Emmott join me with some great tips to jump back on track after a splurge day.

Before the Fair

Gym Time on Fair Week

Once you and your friends or family have picked the day you’re hitting the fair, make sure to not skip workouts over the course of the week. You don’t want to over-exercise and risk injury, but make sure to get your cardio and strength training in.

Better yet – mix up your workout on fair week. That will work different muscle groups, which leads to more calories burned.  Ginnie Emmott, Methodist Health System fitness supervisor, says strength training does more than just give you a tight figure. “The muscle mass you gain during strength training helps keep your metabolism revved up. It also allows you to continue your day-to-day activities, like lifting groceries. It also helps with posture and core strength.”

Working out on fair week isn’t just for the actual calorie burn, but also to keep you in a healthy mindset. I find that when I’m not working out, I make worse food choices.

At the Fair

Share Food

Fried Oreos don’t come cheap. Help protect your wallet and waistline by sharing with your friends. This way, you can sample several  (or quite a few) fun dishes. I’ve actually invited friends to the fair based on their eating habits – are they a good sharer? Do we like the same foods?

Drink Lots of Water

This is just good advice, all the time, but especially at fair time. You will feel a little less hungry, less bloated, and it’s so smart to stay hydrated in the Dallas heat. Sneak some Crystal Light packets in with you to make the water more appealing.

After the Fair

One slip, not ten slips.

Say you overindulge at the fair on a Saturday afternoon. You have two options – 1. Eat salad and lean protein for dinner or 2. Say, let’s just make this an awesome cheat day, get pizza for dinner, and start over tomorrow. I’ve done both of these – guess when my clothes fit. Once you get home, get back on track with healthy eating.

Track What You Eat

Don’t try to make up for the extra calories by skipping meals the next day; that will just leave you hungry and likely to binge. But cut back a little throughout the day with a series of small meals packed with veggies and protein. Registered Dietitian Caroline Susie says make sure to get in all of your food groups- meaning even when you’re cutting back on calories, don’t ditch the carbs. “Anytime a diet completely eliminates an entire food group, red flags should go up,” Susie says.  

Use a calorie-counting app to log your food. This is something worth doing every day, but especially for the days after your splurge.

Keep Drinking Water

After a fun day of eating Corny dogs, you’re probably retaining a little water from all the salt. Drink some extra water to help flush out your system.

Plan your Next Workout

Scheduling your next class or run is a great reminder that after this gluttonous break, you’re getting back to your regular diet and fitness routine. Emmott has an important safety reminder if you aren’t familiar with the weights at your boot camp or gym. “Ask for help. If you want to use weights, but aren’t sure how to use those weird, heavy looking things, ask a trainer or gym employee.”

Most importantly

DON’T WEIGH YOURSELF the day, or even few days, after the fair. You probably weigh more from the salt, not because you gained body fat. Don’t regret what you ate; enjoy the memories of how much fun you had at the fair! Susie says, “If you are craving fried pickles, enjoy them!  Just get back on track at your next meal.  And don’t harbor guilt!  Guilty and negative feelings should not be associated with food.” 

Remember, if you have certain health conditions, a splurge day may be harmful to your health. If you need to see a physician, find one at answers2.org.

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