This weekend our family went to the Texas State Fair. We hadn’t been to the fair in a few years and it was something I was really looking forward to. Call me silly, but I enjoy the: quilts, 4H kids and their cows/pigs/sheep/goats, dog shows, jugglers, games, butter sculptures, and booths filled with items to sell. I was also looking forward to trying a turkey leg. I have seen people eat them lots of times at parks and wanted to try one. As I have been watching my calories closely, I had planned ahead for this edible extravagance. That was until I got to the park.
You hear all the time that Americans are getting fatter and fatter. When I lived in California, everyone exercised and tried to be thin. You would spend big bucks on a meal and have it arrive to your table in micro-portions. It was all about presentation. However, after seeing some of the patrons at the fair, I see why the media warns of our rapid physical decline.
We are getting FAT. I saw people so large that they needed a motorized scooter to get around. Their knees simply could not hold up their massive weight. I saw several of these people eating fried, greasy foods without a second thought as to what put them on that cart in the first place. Honestly, it was incredibly sad.
I’m not a tiny little lady. I have struggled with weight issues since I was 8 yrs. old. That was the summer that I spent with my Grandparents. They were sweet Yugoslavian people that showed love with good food – lots of good food. That was the summer that I went from a slim 8-yr. old to a 30+ lbs. overweight “piggy”. Since reaching adulthood, I have been up to 200 lbs. and down to 123 lbs. Food is my drug. When I am depressed or bored, I think of food. I have learned to eat healthier and exercise regularly now. I am not a tiny lady, but I am trying to get healthier. That is a step in the right direction.
Let’s get back to the fair and food. I realize that part of the whole amusement park experience is rides and entertainment. For many, it is about the food. I only saw a few “healthy” foods at the fair (turkey legs and corn on the cob). I did see one mexican booth that served fresh fruit in a cup. Those were the only “healthy” foods I saw. What else did the patrons eat at the fair? If you like fried, there were: fried Snickers, fried Lattes and fried Coke, fried okra and pickles, fried potato skins, funnel cakes, burgers, chili-cheese fries, corn dogs, fried cheese, and fried oysters & fish. There were hot dogs, Freetos pie, huge pickles, snowcones, ice cream, candy, fudge, cookies, etc. The list goes on and on.
I couldn’t help but notice how many obese parents had obese children. Children as young as 5 yrs. old walking around with a tummy flopped over their waistbands. A whole family of unhealthy, overweight people. Were they eating the turkey legs or corn on the cob? No, they were shoveling in candy and funnel cakes as fast as they could. Many of these children didn’t run around (as children should). They waddled around the park looking tired and drained. Could it be their unhealthy lifestyle that brought them to that point? How many of these people weren’t able to fit onto rides due to their massive size?
Did I ever get my turkey leg at the fair? No. I honestly lost my appetite after seeing what America is doing to itself. So many of us are eating ourselves to death. Literally. We don’t watch our portions. We eat highly processed, salty, greasy foods. We don’t get off the couch unless it is to go to the bathroom or get more food. Our activities don’t center around the event, but focus more on what foods will be served there.
I had packed some grapes for snack. After nine hours at the fair, I ate them and didn’t complain. I came away from the fair wanting to take better care of myself. I don’t want to be the mother that needs a motorized scooter. I want to be the mom that runs and looks good in a pair of jeans. Sure, having unhealthy foods is okay – as a treat. Many of the folks I saw seemed to live on unhealthy. Life is too precious to treat our bodies that way. Bring on the fruit cups.