• Plan ahead: Offer to bring something. Usually the host will welcome the help, and you'll know there will be at least one kid-friendly dish you'll feel comfortable serving. Ideas include sliced fruit and yogurt dip, veggie sticks and hummus, or a citrus chicken salad.
Healthy Choices at the Fair
• Shift your focus away from the food: Fairs are often full of games to play, dramatic shows to watch, and vibrant crafts to explore. Spend most of your afternoon away from the food stalls and focus instead on the fun.
• Make balanced choices: Try to avoid fried foods, which are both addictive and loaded with carcinogens, fat, calories, sodium, and sugar. Seek out healthier options like corn on the cob, grilled food (think kabobs and gyros), sliced mango, popcorn, and veggies. Share sweets or limit everyone to one or two favorite indulgences. If you can, sit down and eat together. Family meals aren't limited to the dinner table, and all of their benefits still apply—even in the middle of the fairgrounds.
• Plan ahead: Don't arrive hungry. "By avoiding going famished, you're going to decrease the amount of junk you'll take in," says Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, founder of SuperKids Nutrition. Have a healthy snack before you go. Halas-Liang recommends pairing healthy carbohydrates like fruits or whole grains with a protein or fat (think an apple or whole wheat bread with peanut butter or a slice of deli meat). Then pack some veggies like carrots, cucumber sticks, or jicama for the drive over to boost your fiber intake.
Wherever you go this summer, you can reinforce healthy eating behaviors, encourage your kids to be active, and most of all, have fun as a family.
Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, and nutrition consultant who specializes in childhood and family nutrition. Her award-winning blog, Sweet Foodie, features family-friendly meals, time-saving tips, and food photography. You can follow Kaufman on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Foodborne illness tends to spike in the summer, so it’s especially important to handle food properly at this time: Get food safety tips for the season.