Finding healthy food options at Disney is becoming easier and easier for the simple reason that Disney is listening to what we are saying. Disney is making an effort to not only provide more healthy options, but also meet allergy and special diet needs. I recently had the opportunity to speak to both chefs and managers of Disney restaurants and came away with some wonderful, first-hand knowledge of the company’s efforts.
My adventure started at Epcot at Living with the Land. Knowing Disney works with scientists on food and farming research, it seemed the best place to start. The Living with the Land boat ride not only was informative, but showed how research is being conducted to provide better growing options for food, given the changes happening in the world.
After seeing where some of the food at the Garden Grill came from, I headed up to check out their menu. Rick, one of the restaurant’s managers, summed their initiatives up in this short 24 second video.[youtube url=”http://youtu.be/vz16KInvgW4″]
During my conversation with Rick, I learned about the Harambe Stand, the healthy eating focus at Animal Kingdom and headed over. I began at Tusker House for breakfast. Chef Ricky spent some time with me and explained that over his 20 years at Disney, the generations have changed and he now has 3 and 4 year olds asking for more vegetables. Breakfast choices were amazing and any dietary need can be met and will be met. His breakfast buffet includes baked African specialties like egg omelets, baked sweet potato with coconut, and delicious baked plantains. Fresh fruit, yogurt, granola and hard-boiled eggs are always a pleasure to see as well. I was in heaven. I next wandered outside to the Harambe Stand and was pleased to find no sodas and that the only unhealthy option available was a few bags of chips.
As my healthy food search came to an end, I compiled this list for other visitors to Disney World seeking healthy food options.
Tips for Healthy Eating at Disney World
- Remain focused on making healthy decisions. Eating healthy foods will keep you feeling better and at the park longer. More often, unhealthy foods will make you sluggish.
- Carry water bottles and fill them up often. Drink water instead of juices and sodas.
- Plan your meals and snacks using the My Disney Experience app or on-line. Make reservations and stick to them.
- Don’t skip a meal or snack. You may really want to get in line for that ride, but a skipped meal will lead to unhealthy eating and only tire you out.
- Use a meal plan and make sure you pick one that meets your family’s needs.
- Pack snacks for in between munching to keep energy up.
- When eating at a buffet, fill yours and the kids’ plates up with color, salad, veggies, and fruits with a protein. Make sure you try new foods, but stay away from breaded and fried items.
- When eating at a table service restaurant, make sure you stick to ordering real foods, salad dressing on the side, and skip the bread and butter.
- Always eat a hearty breakfast.
- You are on vacation, so you can enjoy dessert. Just make smart choices and share.
As a wife of a triathlete, an avid runner, mom of growing children, and real food advocate, I am super impressed with what Disney is doing. You can feel great knowing that you can visit Disney World and eat healthy at the same time!