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Enlightening You about Food and Nutrition

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Dietitian at the Fair #MNFairFood

MN fair food ed and val

So, I happen be a dietitian who loves food and I love Minnesota State Fair FOOD! Yup, I really do! In fact, my hubby and I love it so much, we are aiming to go all 12 days this year!

I know, to some this may seem unusual. But, I truly have come to look forward to exploring many aspects of “The Great Minnesota Get Together” – but especially have fun discovering the best new foods while savoring some of the old favorites.

Remember “It’s an event, not a lifestyle!”

The truth is that since my hubby happens to be very involved in an aspect of the fair, we have the opportunity to spend the majority of days and/or evenings at the largest state fair in the country with a record attendance of over 1.8 million in just 12 days last year! We enjoy concerts, visit the animals, check out new exhibits, hang out at the pubs, and savor some of the craziest concoctions of food you can find on the planet.

So, here’s the reason for my upcoming blog series. 

A few years ago, after “investing” in one of the featured new foods, we were hugely disappointed. It was expensive, looked nothing like the picture, and tasted horrible. On the flip side, I also discovered a flavorful and delicious food (while actually a healthy option as well) that was my daughter’s favorite. That’s when I decided the fair should hire me to help promote food in a different light. I know, it does sound a little crazy now. But, they denied my suggestion for some consulting assuming my nutrition “credentials” meant I would be providing something similar to a “weight watchers guidebook” which is not what they want. Clearly, I didn’t explain my objective very well because with a background working in eating disorders, that would be very unlikely to come from me.

Since then, every year I have more and more people asking me “What have you tried at the fair?” “What do you recommend?” “What’s a good deal?” “What’s something that’s not on a stick?” “Is there anything even somewhat healthy to eat at the fair?” or my favorite, “What’s better, a pronto pup or corn dog, and what’s the difference anyway?” Since most folks are likely to visit the fair only one or two times (or not going at all because it seems there’s only fried food on a stick), some direction with navigating 42 new foods; and, over 500 foods at 300 stands might be helpful! Right??

So, coming up this month on August 27 is day one! Myself, aMN fair food girlslong with a group of friends – many of whom are also dietitians (prerequisite: need to love food and aren’t afraid to eat) will be traveling around the fair aiming to test out as many of the new foods as we can. Then, I will joyfully pass along our thoughts and recommendations to any of my followers. Days 2 through 12 will continue with updates including answers to all those questions on fair-goers minds.

I would love to hear your comments about your experience at the MN State Fair (or your favorite fair). What would you like to ask a dietitian about fair food and eating? Now’s your chance!!

Cheers! ~ Val

MN fair food corn

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You are a Gift!

shutterstock_giftAs a dietitian, I meet people everyday who feel inadequate…about the way they look; that they don’t eat right; they don’t exercise the way they “should”; and consequently, aren’t a good enough mom, wife, daughter, etc.

My job description is to provide medical nutrition therapy to individuals. With a professional background helping people who struggle with eating disorders, I’ve learned first hand there really so much more to this complicated world of nutrition than the type or amount of carbs, fat and protein a person needs. Yes, my job is to help people navigate the toxic food environment we live in to prevent disease and live happy and healthy. But, more often, some of the work I do really is about challenging a toxic culture of perfectionism and black-and-white thinking around the issues of food, eating and weight.

To the notion that there is an “ideal model” of health and nutrition, I recently came across this passage in an old college book of mine, called “Priceless People”. This anonymous writing, titled “Unwrapping Gifts” is truly priceless and reminds us that we (and those we treat) are much more than the wrapping.

Unwrapping Gifts by Anonymous

People are gifts which are sent to us…wrapped.  Some are wrapped very beautifully. They are very attractive when we first see them. Some come in ordinary wrapping paper. Others have been mishandled in the mail. Once in awhile, there is a special delivery. Some persons are gifts which come very loosely wrapped, others very tightly.

But the wrapping is not the gift. It’s so easy to make this mistake.

Sometimes the gift is very easy to open up. Sometimes we need others to help. Is it because they are afraid? Maybe they have been opened up before and thrown away.

You are a person. So you are a gift, too. A gift to yourself, first of all. You have been given to yourself. Have you ever really looked inside the wrappings? Maybe you’ve never really seen the wonderful gift that you are. Could such a gift be anything but beautiful?

And you are a gift to other people. Are you willing to give yourself to others? Do others have to be contented with the wrappings? Never permitted to enjoy – you – the gift?