Rodeo Food Gets A Bad Rap
February 17, 2011

It’s food that’s fun and fattening at the same time.  I’m talking about the high calorie snacks you’ll find at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Fried Snickers. Fried Twinkies. Turkey Legs. Funnel Cakes (my favorite)
I don’t think anyone eats/tastes a lot of this food. Maybe just once during a trip to the rodeo, however, the  Harris County Hospital District is sending out a warning to cowboys and cowgirls – “Don’t Let Rodeo Chow Wreck Your Waistline” 
(here’s the full news release)
HOUSTON (Feb. 16, 2011) – The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is famous for tempting foods that could make any Texan’s mouth water. From sausage on a stick and funnel cakes, to fried Twinkies and giant turkey legs, those high-calorie, high-fat treats can end up on your waistline and give a new and not-so-welcome meaning to “tight-fitting jeans.”

 “Traditionally, rodeo is known for its high-calorie, high-fat foods,” says Ann Smith Barnes, MD, medical director, Weight Management Services and Disease Prevention, Harris County Hospital District. “But you can enjoy rodeo treats without ruining your diet.”

 It’s not easy. According to, these tasty morsels popular with the rodeo crowd are brimming with calories and fat, exceeding the recommended daily saturated fat intake for anyone.

1 deep fried Snickers bar (5 oz.) = 444 calories, 29 grams of fat

1 deep fried Twinkie (2 oz.) = 420 calories, 34 grams of fat

1 giant turkey leg = 1,136 calories, 54 grams of fat

Funnel cake = 760 calories, 44 grams of fat

Foot-long hot dog and bun: 470 calories, 26 grams of fat

The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat intake to less than 25 – 35 percent of your total calories each day. This means a sedentary female who is 31 – 50 years old needs about 2,000 calories each day, and should consume fewer than 16 grams of saturated fat daily, and between 50 – 70 grams of total fat each day.

All is not lost, according to Barnes.

“Indulging can wreak havoc on your waistline, but choosing healthier foods at the rodeo is an option,” she explains. She offers the following tips:

Plan ahead when you know you’re going to the rodeo. Eat small snacks with plenty of lean protein and fiber to keep you satisfied until your next meal. A turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, cereal, fruit and yogurt are good options.

Don’t deprive yourself of the special food you love. The key is to choose one or two favorite treats that will satisfy your craving without ruining your health.

Share the food you buy with a friend. This way, you still eat the foods you enjoy, but consume half the fat and calories.

Eat corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas to save calories. Choose chicken tacos over beef, and opt for salsa over guacamole.

Try barbequed chicken instead of brisket or sausage.

See the sights at the carnival, explore the livestock show or walk around Reliant Stadium to burn some calories after enjoying your treat.

“A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything on a stick,” Barnes says. “But if sausage on a stick is your indulgence, pass on the cotton candy and buttered popcorn. It’s fine to eat the treats you love, but the key is to do so in moderation.”