Pop Quiz: Can a bariatric patient survive a day on the county fair’s midway?

It’s midsummer in Ohio where festivals and fairs are in full swing. I love small town festivals and county fairs. I attend many of these fairs with my husband Brett. He helps his family show draft ponies. They are part of his family’s traditions that have been part of their lives for over fifty years.

I don’t need to tell you that your healthy eating habits are put to a test when you walk down the midway.  Funnel cakes, gyros, sausage sandwiches, French fries, and nachos are a few of the calorie laden treats that tempt me. It takes a strong willpower to resist the aromas that tempt my senses.

As a post-op bariatric patient, I have struggled to eat well at the fair. About the only sure fire way to accomplish that is to pack your own food. That is a pretty unrealistic thing for just about anyone to do. Part of the fair experience for me is enjoying one of my favorite fair foods.

Yes, I do partake in fair food. As I have mentioned before, a successful bariatric patient has to come to terms with eating out and the temptations of not-so-healthy food. There is no question that a visit to your local county fair is an advanced test in willpower and understanding your limitations and weaknesses.

Let’s look at my visit to the Knox County Fair this past weekend. For lunch I had ½ a serving of shredded pork nachos. For dinner I had ½ a gyro. I finished the evening off with a small bowl of ice cream. In the years before my Lapband surgery, I would have ordered greasy French fries and a funnel cake or elephant ear to round out the lunch and dinner.

I am not advocating that you run amuck of your bariatric diet. I do advocate that you eat sensibly and don’t deny yourself food that you like. The idea that food either goes on a good or bad list and you only partake of food on the good list spells disaster. A bariatric patient can enjoy about any food in moderation.  Denying yourself food that you love only makes the desire for it stronger and sets you up to overindulging when the opportunity to “cheat” with that food arises.

My Lapband is definitely watching out for me. I could only eat the partial and smaller portions at the Knox County Fair. I have learned to listen to its signals. I know that by overeating I pay the price in spending time at the port-a-potty; not enjoyable at all. My fair eating habits also have changed. I now cruise the midway scanning the booths for the one food item that I want the most. I want to maximize my hunger with a single dish that will satisfy me. That is far from the all day foodapalooza that I enjoyed years back.

This is how I manage my visits to fairs and festivals. Moderation is key for me. I still enjoy the foods I enjoyed before weight loss surgery; just in smaller quantities. I also make an effort to step up my activity level in the days following the fair. The day after the Knox County Fair found me cycling 30 miles through the beautiful Knox County countryside. Balancing the intake of more calories with burring calories through more activity is a good habit to adopt.

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  1. Lana August 4, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Tom, I really enjoy your blog!!! I love that your husbands family has horses!! I’m crazy about anything horses. 🙂 Post pics! lol Did they do well at the fair?

    Lana in MI

  2. Tom Bilcze August 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I will post pics from the Hartford Fair this Sunday. They do pretty well and have a great time.

  3. Ryann August 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    I can’t tell you how timely this is…off to the fair tomorrow and I so agree with you that it is absolutely NECESSARY to allow yourself to enjoy life, just in moderation…and within the boundaries of our new stomachs and our desire to avoid those potties!


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