How to enjoy rodeo food favorites and keep calories in check

HOUSTON – Food is one of the biggest attractions at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

Although most of the food options are high in fat and calories, there are things to eat without guilt.

Brittany Link, dietitian from Advice for Eating, said the biggest mistake people make is arriving hungry.

"People come planning to eat and that's okay if you want to eat something here, but if you come here starving you're going to overeat on things that are already really high in calories," Link said.

The other mistake she sees is people walking around while eating. Sitting to eat creates a mindfulness that’s proven to reduce your calorie intake.

Your best option for food at the rodeo is lean meat. Link even gives turkey legs a stamp of approval, but she said they should be split between two or three people.

"When you think about your meat portions, you typically want them to be about the palm of your hand so if you're looking at the palm of your hand here that's quite a bit more," she said comparing a turkey leg to her palm. 

Your portion size should resemble the size of a deck of cards.

 Link also suggested looking for tacos.

"Then get the toppings on the side. So like the cheese, the guacamole, the sour cream, get it on the side. You can have some just put it on yourself rather than it being globbed all over it," Link said.

Dessert is not off limits if you really crave sweets, but they also should be shared among people.

"So typically, a candy bar can get you 200, 300 calories itself, but then when you're deep frying it, it goes up to 400, 450 sometimes even 500 calories for just one candy bar," she said.

Link also warns cobbler contains everything in excess like fat, butter, sugar.

She said the best option to satisfy a sweet tooth is to eat kettle corn.

She said a small bag is about 120 calories. It's also higher in fiber, so it's going to help satisfy you a little bit more.

Here are more nutritional figures on fair food, according to calorieking.com:
•    Fried snickers (5 oz.): 444 calories and 29 grams (g) fat
•    Fried twinkie (2 oz.): 420 calories/34 g fat
•    Funnel cake (1): 760 calories/44 g fat
•    Twinkie dog sundae: 500 calories/14 g fat
•    Cotton candy: 171 calories/0 fat
•    Fried cheesecake (6 oz.): 655 calories/47 g fat
•    Foot-long hot dog and bun: 470 calories/26 g fat
•    Giant turkey leg: 1,136 calories/54 g fat