Eating healthy for families on vacation is often very difficult, what with travel and hotel stays and all the activities you have planned. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little research and a little planning, eating healthy anywhere – but especially at Walt Disney World – is as easy as a Google search! Here are some healthy eating tips for the various Disney Parks.
Spring is here, which means everyone has visions of Disney vacations swimming through their minds, right?
If you are in the throes of vacay planning, stop right now and read this story because it’s going to help you live longer, lose weight and have beautiful skin, hair and nails.
Confused? Well, those are the benefits of healthy eating. Yes, I’m talking about eating healthy while vacationing anywhere, but for the sake of this story, we are talking specifically about healthy fare at Walt Disney World!
First, if you haven’t noticed, it’s not winter anymore. You can’t hide behind ski suits and hats. In fact, swimsuit season is right around the corner and you need to look and feel great for yourself and the people you love.
Second, you need to stay healthy, and in order to stay healthy you have to eat well. I know in the past, travel and eating healthy foods have not always been synonymous with each other, but that, my friends, is changing as we speak. This change has come partly due to restaurants and resorts being pressured to change their menus in favor of more healthy meals and partly because we, as moms, have become much more savvy in the area of healthy food!
We are learning what to pack and what to buy to ensure our families are eating foods that are nourishing and not full of empty calories.
So, in tune with our quest to become true, authentic, honest to goodness foodies, here are my tips for following healthy family guidelines while having the time of your lives at Disney World.
1. Eat Fruits and Veggies
I try to cut down on the amount of eating out we do any time we travel and Disney is no different. We aren’t made of money and restaurants typically utilize a lot of processed foods, don’t have many fresh items, and rarely can tell you where the meat or dairy came from, so it’s impossible to know if it’s grass fed or not. Yes, I’m one of those crazy organic grass-fed people. Sorry, but not really. I’ll get into this a little later as I don’t want to hijack my own tip list.
Fruits and veggies are the easiest snacks in the book. They require very little preparation and virtually no special treatment. Just pack up the kids’ favorite fruits and vegetables, and voila! You’ve got a sweet and healthy snack that will energize your kids and fuel their body with the vitamins they need to keep on going.
But if you’re like me and packing a cooler is akin to bikini waxing, check out the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen at the Epcot Flower and Garden Show. Here you can order a succulent watermelon salad with pickled onions, baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction. Yummy AND healthy.
2. Drink Water
I dare to say there is not one single person in this universe that drinks the amount of water our bodies need to stay hydrated. I know I don’t, but good grief I try and if your kids are anything like my kids, they balk at the idea of water. Well, they used to, before pay cuts and taxes and dead transmissions … now they will drink water like they used to drink Kool Aid because it comes out of water fountains and is FREE.
Before we head into the parks we fill up a few Camelbaks and a few reusable BPA free water bottles and that is what we drink. No soda, no high fructose corn syrup, no red dye number whatever, just plain, nature provided water. This last trip, I did bring lemons to squeeze into our bottles, but my kids EAT lemons like candy, so they didn’t last. Bottom line, drink A LOT of water.
3. Avoid Fast Food
This is a no-brainer. I know it’s cheaper y’all, but this should never even be an option. My kids haven’t seen the inside of a fast food restaurant in decades. If you find yourself in a bind and you have no food, no snacks and no grocery store or way to get to a grocery store and you have to eat out, then splurge on a place that offers a healthy menu with fresh fruits and vegetables as sides. And there are plenty of options in all the parks. Check out Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios. Their menu consists of such treasures as Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad and for the kids a yummy Grilled Veggie Sandwich served with carrots and applesauce and WATER (or lowfat milk – not organic or grass-fed). Intermissions Cafe in Epcot is a great option as well with menu options such as grapes, fruit and cheese plate, and a vegan trio.
Let it be known that RAW veggies can be dinner, folks. Just the other night we had cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and celery with homemade hummus for dinner. The kids were beyond psyched … they loved it. Every meal doesn’t have to be seven courses and consist almost entirely of meat, unless you think like my husband and oldest son, Grady and middle daughter Kady.
4. Go Vegetarian
Oh so self serving is this number four. You see, I am a convenience vegan, which means I’m a vegan 98% of the time, the other 2% I’m a vegan failure. But veganism promises ultimate health and true energy and so I try so hard to incorporate it as much as I can in the lives of my family. Vegetarian food is easily found throughout Walt Disney World!!
If you are looking for well prepared vegan food at Epcot, look no further than Urban Farm Eats. Holy delicious Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese with White Balsamic Vinaigrette! I’m drooling just remembering it. I seriously thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The kale is crisp, the dried cherries are sweet and everything else is totes delish! For all you carnivores, yeah, you might be missing the meat, but you sure as heck aren’t missing the flavor!
5. Prepare Your Own Meals
This, guys, is one of the biggest perks of RVing. Regardless of where we are, I have a full fledged kitchen at my disposal whenever we find ourselves hungry… which is often. In fact, on Sunday we drove the RV to Magic Kingdom and parked in the Hero lot. During the only rainfall our entire stay, we ran the younger kids out to the RV for dinner. All in all, we were gone for about an hour and then we were back kicking it in the park.
The best part is that it cost about $3 a plate and I made it from fresh food purchased at local farmers’ markets.
But you don’t have to RV to have the luxury of saving money and making your own meals. Many hotel rooms have kitchenettes as do vacation rental properties. There are options.
Don’t Forget to Relax
I love feeding my family healthy choices, but I’m also a firm lover of all things junk food. I am not a food Nazi and don’t freak out when the kids eat things that are devoid of nutrition, especially while on vacay.
In fact, to prove my point, while I was riding Space Mountain, Dan bought the kids the following: 2 huge hot dogs loaded with “chili”, cotton candy, 2 pretzels, 3 sodas, popcorn, french fries, and something else that my mind has apparently blocked out.
Point is I am fully aware of the fact that if I ensure we eat healthy foods 90% of the time, the 10% with Dan feeding them won’t matter at
So make a point to eat as healthy as you can, make good choices, opt for fresh foods over processed foods, and enjoy the heck out of your magical Disney vacation, turkey legs and all.
Moderation is the key … at least that’s the mantra I repeat at the end of the day when I’m stressing about the nastiness that is a hot dog!