Although fairs might have a reputation for deep fried foods and rides, there are plenty of ways to make a day at the fair healthier for you and your young child.
Here are some suggestions:
- Plan ahead. Before you head to the fair, offer your child a healthy meal or snack. Fresh or frozen fruit is a good choice, since it might be difficult to find at the fair.
- Seek out healthier food options at the fair. Most fairs offer some or all of these items. Although some contain added sugar or a fair amount of sodium, they are healthier choices than corn dogs, fries, and elephant ears.
- Corn on the cob
- Roasted nuts
- Dipped fruits
- Turkey leg (often big enough for the whole family!)
- Don’t be fooled! For example, before you order a “fruit smoothie” ask if it has real fruit in it or if it comes from a mix.
- Avoid smoking areas and ask that tobacco and e-cigarette policies be enforced so children won’t breathe secondhand smoke.
- Getting your heart rates up by walking depends on comfortable feet. You and your child will see and do more at the fair if you both wear the right shoes. Athletic shoes might be better than sandals, as you might need to walk through gravel, dirt, grass, straw, or even mud.
- Help your child identify one thing he or she really loves about the fair, and spend plenty of time making the most of that experience. It might be a ride, a game, a certain barn, or a petting zoo. If it involves a sweet or fried treat, choose a reasonable serving size or consider splitting it among several people. For example, one funnel cake can serve up to 4-6 people. After the treat, enjoy some lower sugar and lower fat items at the fair.
- Carry a water bottle so your child can stay hydrated without loading up on sugary soda with empty calories. Save money by refilling the water bottle at the drinking fountain. For a fun beverage, order a hand-shaken lemonade with half the usual sugar.
- Slap on a hat and spread on plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned, even when the day is a little cloudy.
- Avoid spreading disease by not eating in the barns, washing hands (yours and your child’s) before you eat, and washing hands after touching animals. If you can’t find hand-washing stations with soap and water, use hand sanitizers.
With health as the 4th H and with a variety of healthy living projects, 4-H as an organization recognizes the importance of promoting and establishing healthy habits for its members. However, some aspects of 4-H have yet to embrace health promotion.
In 2016, a survey study was conducted to 4-H club leaders about club practices related health. The survey results below showed that although some practices align with health recommendations, the majority of 4-H clubs surveyed were not serving healthy foods and beverages nor allowing time for physical activity during club meetings.
• Over 90% of clubs served water and not quite half served 100% fruit juice (45.6%), but other beverage offerings included fruit-flavored drinks such as Kool Aid (50.5%), artificially sweetened fruit juice (36.9%), and soda (33.3%).
• Cookies and baked snacks were the top food items served at club meetings; fruit was the third most served food item, followed by chips and pizza.
• A majority of clubs (59%) hold fundraisers involving food items; top items sold were baked goods, pizza, and candy bars.
• Only two-fifths of clubs always and less than half sometimes allotted time for physical activity.
• Club leaders identified limited time, lack of interest, lack of space, and physical disabilities of club members and leaders as challenges to implementing healthy living activities.
4-H volunteers have the opportunity to help children meet guidelines for physical activity and healthy eating by regularly incorporating healthy living activities into 4-H club meetings. For example, to increase physical activity, try including active movements into already existing activities such as icebreakers and roll call. Try to keep MyPlate in mind by including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsweetened beverages as snacks during meetings. Finally, consider taking the 4th H for Health Challenge to jump start your club’s journey to healthier meetings.
Consider concentrating on health as the topic of your Cloverbud meetings this year. The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities, publication number 4-H 710GPM, contains the following six lessons on health: Fitness Is Fun, Making Healthy Food Choices, Safe at Home, Food Fun, Looking Your Best and Fall Festival: A Harvest of Fun. The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities can be ordered through your local county Extension Office in Ohio for $13.25 plus tax. Although the cost is a little more, it is also available at estore.osu-extension.org.
Another great source for health lessons on safe use of medications is the Generation Rx web-site. Visit www.GenerationRx.org, click on “Take Action” and then on “Elementary” to access an Elementary Resource Toolkit. The information will educate 4-H Cloverbuds about the safe use of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Developed through a partnership between The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy and the Cardinal Health Foundation, the toolkit contains activity stations, games, worksheets and visual aids to keep children engaged and having fun while learning. There are also educational resources for teenagers and adults.
Hello again! Great to make this 4-H Cloverbud Connections with you.
This Cloverbud Connections issue is about healthy living. Living healthy is not something that should only be thought about later in life or as an adult, but across the lifespan, including childhood. Cloverbud kids are at a perfect age to start learning and living healthy.
Hopefully you have used and seen The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities which is the latest curriculum written for you, the 4-H Cloverbud advisor. It contains many activities to use with Cloverbud participants. One of the sections is on Healthy Living and contains six curriculum pieces including “Fitness is Fun” and “Making Healthy Food Choices.” There are numerous activities in each curriculum piece to use with Cloverbud children to promote healthy living. If you are not familiar with The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities please check with your local 4-H Youth Development professional.
Thanks for your commitment to the 4-H Cloverbud program as we enhance the healthy development of children throughout the state!