Guest Column: Nutritionally navigating NIOSA: Tips and tricks

It’s hard to pass up a party as fun as NIOSA, especially since it is only a small part of a once-  a-year celebration. Certainly, a couple of nights at this festival could leave you feeling more than full. Here are some tips to make it fun while keeping your waistline in mind as well as some selections from various cultural areas.

1. Eat first: Have a small, light snack before you leave. Focus on fiber and protein to keep you fuller, longer.

2. Focus on your favorites: Survey the grounds when you get there first. Don’t rush to decide what you want. Take the time to narrow it down to something you can’t have anytime (cheeseburgers, hot dogs, fries, etc.) and a few items you will really savor and enjoy. Remember, one single item that only passes your lips once in a while is not going to make or break your healthy diet.

3. Bring friends to the festival. Have a few good friends with you to share items with. It is much better to taste a few of the things you want. Also, studies show we enjoy indulgent items less and less with each bite we take.

4. You booze, you lose“¦calories that is. Alcohol calories can quickly add up. Drink slow and have plenty of water in between each drink.

5. Focus on the festivities: Don’t worry so much about the food. You are not just there for that, but rather to experience the culture and company. Enjoy!

Here are some selections from some of the booths.

Arneson Theatre: Banana Smoothie-split with a friend if you plan to have other items. Makes a great, refreshing desert.

Chinatown: Try the chicken lettuce wraps or Yaki Tori. A fortune cookie is a good little sweet, costing only 25 calories each!  Avoid the tempura and other fried foods.

French Quarter: Skip the sausage and po boys, which are very high in fat. The café au lait is a nice pick me up and lighter in calories. Escargots, while in butter, are also a lighter choice

Froggy Bottom: Try the Bongo k-bobs (beef shish k-bobs) that are likely grilled.

Main Street USA: A fried green tomato will cost you 150 calories, but one would be okay. Also, soft pretzels are low in fat, but if it is a big one, split it with a pal.

Mexican Market: Enjoy the fajita de pollo or bean taco or the Elotes (corn on the cob). If you must have a fried delight, split it with a friend

Mission Trail: The prairie chicken looks pretty good with onions and peppers. Ask yourself if you need the tortilla.

South of the Border: Try the Aguacetes. Skip the sour cream

Villia Espana: Go for the tapas bandas (sans cheese) or the shrimp parilla.