Despite all of my efforts to promote healthy eating, I must confess to a chronic condition that at times leaves me feeling weak in the knees and struggling for breath. This condition affects millions every year and I know of no cure. I'm speaking, of course, about Fair Food-itis. This specific disease is seasonal in nature but can be devastating nonetheless. Symptoms include excessive sweating, nausea, abnormal blood sugar, and drooling.
I have a long history of Fair Food-itis. My wife especially enjoys telling the story of the first fair we went to early in our relationship. Even now, she gets a look of shock on her face as she tries to list the various food items consumed that day. I won't attempt to recreate the list, except to say if it was served on a stick or on a plate, I probably had at least one order that day. Of course, that was at a time where I could consume pounds of food in one sitting with no weight gain. Those days, unfortunately, are long gone. *sigh*
New fair foods are... well, disgusting.
In my defense, those were also the days when fair food was somewhat normal. Corn on the cob, porkburgers, cheese curls. in recent years, fair food has aspired to a level of decadence that would make Caligula blush. The two 'so disgusting you have to try it' foods in Indiana this year are doughnut burgers and deep fried butter.
In California, they're apparently taking a different route: python kabobs, frog and alligator are on the menu, as is chocolate covered bacon and deep fried Twinkies. If this is California's first go at deep fried candy, they've got quite a way to go as we in the Midwest have had deep fried Snickers, Moon Pies, Twinkies, Pepsi (yes, Pepsi soda) and just about anything else you can imagine for years now.
These foods are so over the top, so intentionally bizarre, they just reek of desperation. I want to tell those selling it: 'You're trying too hard!' Fair food should sell itself.
To those buying it, I say this: 'If you entered a restaurant, would you order a thick, greasy slab of hamburger covered in cheese and placed between two glazed doughnuts? No? Then what is appealing about ordering it from a trailer without running water that's been sitting in the 100 degree heat all day?'
What's next? A doughnut burger wrapped in bacon, smothered in cheese and chocolate, then deep-fried? I think I'll stick to the pork on a stick, thank you.
What to do?
My resistance to the latest crazy concoctions aside, I'm certainly the last person to be a killjoy and suggest eating a salad at the State Fair. However, there are some strategies that you can use to avoid outgrowing your clothes while still wearing them. So here are some tips for how to survive Fair Food-itis from MedicineNet.com:
- Don't arrive hungry. Eat before you go so you can limit your food to a few treats instead of grazing on food all day long.
- Go early in the morning, when you may be less likely to be enticed by the aromas of food.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, especially when the weather is hot.
- Check out all the offerings first, then choose three items over the course of the day.
- Ask for an extra plate and share your food choices. This way, you can taste a variety of foods without doing too much damage.
I wish you and your loved ones a safe passage through this dangerous time of the year. H1N1 is scary, but it's nothing compared to the horrors of Fair Food-itis!
Matthew Ellis serves as executive director of National Episcopal Health Ministries.