What to choose to stay on track with your diet at RodeoHouston

March 14, 2019 GMT

People flock to from all over the country to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which showcases all that is Texas — including the Texas-sized portions.

While the event has tons to do and see for all who attend, it is really more family-friendly than diet-friendly. Even for those not trying to lose weight, the rodeo can be difficult to navigate when it comes to finding a lower-calorie option. These are my recommendations for how to satisfy your hunger without destroying your health.

First, and this is fairly obvious, stay away from anything the starts with the word “fried.” Go with “grilled,” instead: By choosing something that isn’t breaded and thrown into a deep fryer you can cut down as many as 300 calories. Head over to NRG Park where you can find vendors such as Holmes Smokehouse, Blue Ribbon Grill and Texas Pride Grill. Skip the brisket and order a leaner meat — smoked or grilled chicken or turkey, which have less fat and fewer calories.


If barbecue isn’t your thing, not to worry. You can find Mexican fare at both the NRG Park and NRG Center. Chicken fajitas — skip the tortillas, or use corn tortillas — is a great option. For perspective, grilled chicken fajitas with onions, peppers, salsa and a little sour cream (without the tortilla) falls somewhere around 200 calories, depending on portion size. A chicken quesadilla is closer to 600 calories. Doesn’t take a nutrition professional to figure out which one is the better choice.

There are other international options at the rodeo, too. Try Greek Grill at NRG Park; it serves some of my favorite healthy Greek foods — hummus, eggplant and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Gyros are another option, but tread carefully. If you have the choice, choose a chicken gyro. Lamb isn’t always the leanest meat, and some chefs even add fat to the lamb to keep it moist throughout the cooking process.

A quick word on alcoholic drinks: Those frozen margaritas that look like a party in a yard stick? Not your friend. Yard margs can contain an entire day’s worth of calories. Margaritas and daiquiris in general are among the most fattening and calorific drinks — one 16-ounce frozen margarita has nearly 500 calories. So skip the fruity, sugary cocktails this year and stick to the light stuff. A light beer — Michelob Ulta, Miller Lite, et al. — has much fewer calories, about 95 to 110 calories per serving.

Maddy Wilson is a nutritionist and spin instructor at Ride Indoor Cycling in Houston.