Finding Healthy Fare at Fiesta Fairs – San Antonio Magazine

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Quesadillas on every corner, tacos at every turn and margaritas flowing like the San Antonio River can only mean one thing: Fiesta time in San Antonio! 

With booth after booth of delicious, often deep-fried treats, it’s enough to make even the most disciplined diner fall face-first into a funnel cake.  

“Fiesta is comparable to the holidays,” explains Jenny Hagendorf, registered dietitian nutritionist at My Nutrition Studio. “The town shuts down, and it’s very easy to get out of a routine, which is where the majority of healthy habits stem from.”

But just because you are out of your routine doesn’t mean you have to go on a booth binge at every event. It is possible to strike a healthy balance between indulging in your favorite Fiesta foods and maintaining a healthy diet.

“Eating with intention is still possible during Fiesta,” assures Hagendorf. “It’s key to honor your health, yet also promote a healthy relationship with food and enjoy those nostalgic favorites.”  

The secret lies in planning. Here are a few of Hagendorf’s tips for navigating NIOSA and other Fiesta celebrations in a healthy way.

  1. Pregame your party: If you know Fiesta is in your future, fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods throughout the day to help you feel sated. “Adequate balanced food intake during the day will help set you up for success to avoid overconsuming in the evening,” says Hagendorf, adding this is a good rule of thumb not just for Fiesta but anytime.  
  1. Make smart choices: Whether you’re shucking your cares at Oyster Bake or strolling through King William Fair, there are always healthy options to be found when hunger strikes. You just have to know where to look. “One of the best approaches is to manage your hunger with high fiber and protein-rich options while staying hydrated,” advises Hagendorf. Try aguacates, fresh avocado halves filled with a blend of salsa and sour cream. These contain good fat that will keep you full, and you can ask for the filling on the side for portion control. Any grilled meat or seafood like shrimp parrilla or anticuchos will provide plenty of protein. On the lighter side, fruit cups are a refreshing option, especially on a hot spring day.  
  1. Be mindful with margaritas: Yes, a frozen margarita on a hot day may feel thirst-quenching at the moment, but it can leave you dehydrated. And the more you imbibe, the less likely you are to make good choices in the food department. Hydrate with bottled water, aguas frescas or one of Hagendorf’s favorite combos, a Topo Chico dressed with lime and tajin. “If you are consuming alcohol, consider drinking water or electrolytes for every alcoholic beverage,” she suggests. “And remember to mindfully sip.” 
  1. Give yourself permission to enjoy: Have you ever noticed that the more you deny yourself something, the more you want it? Avoid thinking of food as “good or bad.” Instead, allow yourself to enjoy that treat you’ve looked forward to and savor every bite. “If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, binging,” cautions Hagendorf.  

Even the best-laid plans can go astray. If, despite your best efforts, you went a little too hard on the tacos and tequila, don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track and keep moving forward. “Every meal and snack is another opportunity to do better,” says Hagendorf. “Opt for more veggies, hydrate, and embrace some joyful movement at the parades!” 

¡Viva Fiesta!

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