How to Eat Healthy at Disney World
Let’s just go ahead and cut straight to the chase: eating healthy at Disney World isn’t the easiest thing to do. Not because there isn’t options, but because we have to look a little more to find them and there are so many delicious sugary treats! Before we get started on the how to tackle healthy eating at Disney I want to debunk a couple myths about healthy eating in general:
- Myth: Sugar is bad. Fact: Our bodies need sugar to survive. During digestion the sugars we eat are broken down into simple sugars which is what we use for energy. Keep this in mind when strolling down Main Street after a long day and you catch a sniff of the bakery. It could in fact be more beneficial for you to grab a jumbo cookie. Your energy is depleted, you have walked most of the day, and more often then not if you are craving a specific food it is because your body needs it. Let me clarify, our bodies do not necessarily crave chocolate chip cookies, but the sugar and carbohydrates that are inside the cookie.
- Myth: You can never drink to much water. Fact: Too much water to fast hurts your kidneys. You see our bodies are comprised of many things, sodium and water being two of them. When you drink water in excess our fluid levels rise and our sodium levels fall. Normally our kidneys excrete the water we don’t need and our levels balance out. However if we drink too much too fast our kidneys can’t keep up and our sodium levels fall too low. Keep in mind too that Florida is HOT HOT HOT and you are more likely to sweat a lot (further decreasing your sodium levels), this means when it’s time to refuel or rehydrate find a good balance of water and sodium. A good guide is to drink when you’re thirsty and it’s okay to be a little dehydrated.
Disclaimer: The information listed above is merely my opinion about nutrition. I have a background in sports performance and nutrition, but do not have a nutrition degree. Follow the advice at your own risk.
With all that said, I hope you can look at a few aspects of health a little different. Now lets get into how we can make healthier choices when we are surrounded by huge turkey legs, jumbo cinnamon rolls, endless cupcakes, and MICKEY WAFFLES. No matter where you go on Disney property, healthy options are available to you. Here is a quick overview of how to pick fresh foods:
- Fruits and Veggies: Instead of grabbing a bag of chips, or popcorn try a fruit or vegetable cup, or even a big pickle. Pickles are a great way to replenish sodium levels after a long day of sweating and walking around. Fruits and vegetables are made available in every theme park and resort and choices include: grapes, celery, carrots, apple slices, pita chips, trail mix, assorted fruit cup, etc.
- ICE CREAM: Well pretty close to ice cream, instead of a classic Mickey bar try a strawberry fruit bar or an iconic Disney Dole Whip (confession- I’m embarrassed to say have never had a Dole Whip). The Dole Whip is a combination of pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice. Be advised that it DOES contain dairy and is gluten free. This island desert can be found at Aloha Isle in Adventureland or at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
- Be Picky: When you’re out at a restaurant do not be afraid to be picky. Ask for vegetables instead of fries, get your sauce on the side, order grilled instead of fried, ask what your meal is cooked in and ask if they can cook it plain, and you can even ask for smaller portions. Although this may sound like a bother it is crucial when trying to eat healthier on your vacation. Also, the Disney cast members are WONDERFUL and try to accommodate guests the best they can. While I suggest being picky, please also be patient and avoid being rude!
- Be Proactive: If you know the restaurants you will be dining at before you go call (407-824-5967) or email(SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com) Disney and let them know of your “special diet.” I also recommend looking at menus before you go, get familiar with what the restaurants have to offer and where you will have to substitute items or if you can eat at a particular establishment at all.
- YOU GOT THIS! It is not difficult to make healthy choices at Disney, they are readily available. The hardest part will be the will power, create a plan and stick to it. However don’t be afraid to give yourself a little grace and plan to indulge in a few tasty treats1 After all you are on vacation!
Disney has made colossal improvements in making healthy options available at their parks, resorts, and restaurants. Although it may take a bit more planning to stay on course, it is nonetheless possible and Disney cast members will help the best they can.