Aug. 11, 2012— -- At some point this summer you're bound to find yourself weaving your way through a maze of bright, blinking food carts. The smell of roasting hot dogs and deep-fried funnel cake is enough to eat away at anyone's willpower—and who cares, right? What's one little treat when you're fêting?
Well, we'll tell you: That one snack could pack a days' worth of calories, sugar, and fat, and leave you starving. To help you navigate the rows (and rows and rows) of trashy, tempting treats, we uncovered the five worst diet disasters—and found some healthier options, too.
Diet Disaster: Funnel Cake
With 700 calories and 40g of fat in just one funnel cake, be grateful these light-as-air webs only rear their deep-fried heads once a year. If you need a fix, split one with a friend (or two!).
Diet Disaster: Soft Pretzels
It's not fried, it's not dipped in anything, so it's safe, right? Not when it's as big as your face. A jumbo-variety soft pretzel will cost you 527 calories and over 100g of carbs—almost your entire daily allowance.
Diet Disaster: Giant Turkey Leg
These dino-sized turkey legs are eaten by the thousands at carnivals and theme parks. Why should you hold off on your turkey fix till November? Each drumstick contains 1,136 calories and 54g of fat. You'd have to walk for 5 hours and 15 minutes to undo that kind of damage.
Diet Disaster: Snow Cone
It takes a lot of sugary syrup to make your snow cone bright and appetizing, and one with just 3oz of syrup will run you 250 calories. Cool off sensibly by asking the vendor to ease up on the syrup or use a sugar-free flavor.
Diet Disaster: Deep Fried Oreos
Whoever coined the phrase "Everything is better deep fried" was probably right—but desperately unhealthy, too. These crunchy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside gut busters are around 100 calories a pop, making a typical order topped with powdered sugar a 600 calorie setback.
Smarter Choice: Candy Apple
Despite being drenched in a sweet sheen, a 330-calorie candy apple is surprisingly high in fiber (4g), low in fat (5g) and can be tricky to eat, so you'll feel satisfied longer—or ditch it before you're done. If you prefer the caramel-coated variety, add 150 calories.
Smarter Choice: Corn on the Cob
Turns out you can find a whole food at a carnival! If you're looking for something savory, a grilled or boiled ear with butter and spices is just 200 calories. Or skip the toppings altogether for a 60 calorie snack that's more filling than any of the other options out there.
Smarter Choice: Kabobs
If you're forced to spend dinnertime at the park, head to the kabob cart. A chicken kabob is low in calories (150 per skewer), packed with filling veggies, and high in protein.
Smarter Choice: Cotton Candy
Okay, we admit it: There's no redeeming nutritional value in a cloud of spun sugar. But at just 100 calories per ounce, you can get your sweet fix without eating anything fried, battered, or frosted. Just remember to brush your teeth after.
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