Summer is the time of year for many celebrations from festivals to concerts to fairs. The food usually served at the venues is not the healthiest, with vendors serving fried foods and sugary snacks from food trucks and tents. However, that does not mean that fair food is completely off limits for those on a low FODMAP diet. Here are some tips to help you make the healthiest choices possible on your next visit to the fairgrounds.
Common fair finds for protein are sausages, corn dogs, and burgers. If you are lucky you may find healthier vendors at your fair. However, when thinking about common fairground food choices, the safest protein for those on a low FODMAP regimen would be:
- turkey legs (ask if they use garlic or onion in their rub).
- chicken or beef kabobs with tomatoes and peppers (ask for no onion and ask about the rub or marinade they use).
- burgers without the bun.
Sausages and hot dogs may have garlic and onion powder added during processing, and some other options such as fried chicken, corn dogs, or fried seafood may be cooked in wheat batter.
Although fried and smothered in butter, there are some safe sides for those on the low FODMAP diet at the fair. Fried potatoes without seasoning and french fries are a safe option as are grilled vegetables like corn on the cob (even with a bit of butter). Just be sure to forgo any seasoning since many condiments contain garlic and onion powder for seasoning. Corn tortilla chips would also be ok, but no cheese sauce since many processed queso sauces contain wheat flour as a thickener. Finally, kettle corn, which is usually just made with vegetable oil, popcorn kernels, sugar, and salt, is a low FODMAP option. Plain popcorn is low FODMAP safe in a 7-cup serving.
No pies or fried cookies are low FODMAP safe. However, that doesn’t mean you can't enjoy some sweets at the fair on a low FODMAP diet. Cotton candy, which is just sugar and artificial flavors, is low FODMAP. Also, a fruit smoothie with safe fruits like banana or strawberries would be ok in a small size cup, if no high fructose corn syrup flavorings are added.
If you are lucky, you may be able to find a fruit salad with some fresh melon, but just remember the following Monash-certified low FODMAP serving sizes for certain summer fruits.
- Strawberries: no FODMAPs detected, so consume liberally.
- Grapes: no FODMAPs detected; consume liberally.
- Blueberries: 20 berries
- Cantaloupe: ½ cup
- Honeydew melon: ½ cup
- Banana (unripe): 1 medium banana (around 7 inches long)
- Banana (ripe): 1/3 medium banana (about 2-2.5 inches long piece)
Common fairground refreshments are carbonated sodas, sugary ice drinks, snow cone snacks flavored with high fructose corn syrup, and alcoholic beverages. These are not necessarily the safest drink choices, so follow the tips below for choosing low FODMAP beverages and servings during your visit to the fair.
- Beer or wine: Consume no more than 12 ounces beer or 5 ounces wine each day to stay safe on your low FODMAP regimen.
- Lemonade: Only trace amounts of FODMAPs are found in lemon juice and lemons are low FODMAP, therefore, you will be safe to consume a glass of homemade lemonade. However, make sure the lemonade at the fair is homemade with cane sugar and fresh lemons, and not high fructose corn syrup.
- Water: Stick to water as your primary beverage to stay hydrated in warmer weather. You can consume liberally since there are no FODMAPs in nature’s coolest beverage.
Therefore, when it comes to fair time, write a short list to remind you of some safe food choices and enjoy your visit!
Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.