16:26 PM

Foods of Summer - Tips to Avoid Festival-Food Binges

It is summer, and gardens are abloom with fresh favorites of the season. It’s also when the area is booming with fairs, festivals and other events that frequently exclude the healthy fare you usually eat. (Unless funnel cake, fried food on a stick and candied apples are among your daily food groups!)

Fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon, Martin Walko, MD, with LVPG Surgery– Health & Wellness Center in Hazleton, says we ought to think more broadly than summer fairs to find the best treats of summer. “If you don’t happen to grow your own produce, this time of year is perfect for visiting your local farmers’ market or nearby farmstand and enjoying the best of summer – fresh baby lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, snap peas and more,” he says.


Enjoy fruits, vegetables au naturel

Having worked with hundreds of weight-loss surgery patients, Walko hears time and again from them how good “plain” food is. “As part of our weight-loss surgery nutrition program, patients begin to enjoy fresh foods that they previously only ate fried or coated in a dressing. Especially in summer, fresh vegetable and fruit options are nearly endless and can be enjoyed just lightly cooked, grilled or raw,” Walko says.

If you want to get some exercise while selecting your food, try a pick-your-own farm. “There is truly nothing like selecting berries right from the vine or peaches from a tree,” says bariatric surgeon Richard Boorse, MD, with LVPG General, Bariatric and Trauma Surgery. “Then enjoy them ‘as is’ – you don’t need pie crust, biscuits or whipped cream to enhance their flavors.”

Other options to obtain your fresh produce include joining a farm co-op or buying a share (or membership) in a community-supported agriculture plan to receive a fresh box of the farmer’s crop each week. You also can get out your shovel and plant some late-season vegetable plants now to enjoy a crop later in summer and fall.

Benefits beyond great taste

Not only are fresh and local produce choices plentiful right now, Boorse says that research finds they are excellent for your health.

  • Strawberries and blueberries are good for blood pressure.

  • A diet that features five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day helps protect against developing metabolic syndrome (precursor to diabetes).

  • Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin – including kale, summer yellow squash and red grapes – help protect your eyes. “You cannot go wrong adding extra servings of vegetables and fruit to your meals,” he says.


Guide to survive festival food

Festival and fair foods are abundant this time of year. Before you take a spin on the Ferris wheel, select a strategy (or three) that allows you to have food fun at the fest, without triggering a diet disaster.

Plan ahead

  • If allowed, bring nuts, fruit and water for quick pick-me-up snacks.

  • Eat your main meal before heading to the fair, or plan to have it after.

  • Look at the fair or festival website for food vendor info and select healthier options.

Protein first

Carbs are tempting, but fill up first on protein: lean meat, grilled fish or low-fat dairy.

Stick with water

Watch out for liquid calories. They add up fast and don’t provide long-term fullness.

Veggie power

  • Spiral-cut vegetable “noodles” are popping up everywhere, including fairs.

  • Raw or grilled, veggie kebabs are a filling and tasty treat.

Share and share alike

Calorie splurge on one treat the group likes. Sharing it three or four ways cuts your calories.

Considering weight-loss surgery?

Join us for a free weight-loss surgery info event in Allentown, Berwick, Bethlehem, Hazleton, Mountain Top, Palmer Township, Pottsville, Stroudsburg or Wilkes-Barre. Lehigh Valley region: LVHN.org/LVbariatrics Northeast PA region: LVHN.org/NEPAbariatrics