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Eating Healthy At The Amusement Park

amusement park rides, roller coaster and tents

Nothing can spoil a day of fun at the amusement park like spoiling your diet. From giant swirly lollipops to hubcap-sized funnel cake, caloric danger lurks at every turn.

And if you’ve brought the kids along—forget it! Portion sizes at amusement parks are notoriously out of control. Fortunately, there are some hidden gems that won’t ruin all the hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym. Use this handy guide to make healthy choices between rides.

Worst Choices:

  • Turkey legs: While protein packed, these Flintstones-esque meat clubs pack 1100 calories and 54g of fat. To work that off, prepare to walk about five hours. At that rate, it might be best to wait for Thanksgiving and portion off a non-dino size plate of white meat.
  • Funnel cakes: No big surprise here—fried, sugared dough is not very good for you. On average, expect to blow about 700 calories and 40g of fat per crunchy sugared cake. Plus, watch out for trans fats; most amusement parks aren’t obligated to use ‘healthy’ cooking oils like restaurants, and these can clog your arteries before you’re even out of line for It’s a Small World.
  • Lemonade: A 24-ounce lemonade has about 300 calories of pure sugar—almost 75g worth. To slake thirst even on the hottest days, try an unsweetened (or very lightly sweetened) iced tea. Ah, there’s nothing more refreshing than not drinking a meal’s worth of calories in one cup.  

Best Choices:

  • Candy apples: This one might come as a surprise, but these sticky treats are weirdly one of the better choices on the midway. While they do have about 300 calories each, the apple within has 4g of fiber. While the fiber helps to keep you full, eating off a stick will slow you down long enough to really savor the treat.
  • Corn dogs: This fairway favorite has all the salty, crunchy, on-a-stick-ness you crave, but with only about 350 calories behind it. If you’re watching your sodium, though, stick to kabobs, which have 150-300 calories each and are mostly lean protein.
  • Corn on the cob: Even with toppings like butter, mayo or cheese, an ear of amusement park corn will still only set you back around 200 calories. An un-topped ear has around 60 calories, and with 5 grams of fiber, it should keep you full while you’re waiting in line for the next ride.

Of course, you can always pack your own snacks: Think carrot sticks, apples, granola and refillable bottles of water. Stay hydrated and snack your way across the park with healthy treats from home—then walk yourself hungry for a nutritious dinner outside the park gates.