Eating Healthy at Walt Disney World

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It always starts out well. Your intentions are good. You’ve been true to a healthy eating plan and you know that you can count points, skip carbs, cut desserts — whatever has been working so well for you for months to stay healthy. You’re sure that you can easily order a Diet Coke by the pool instead of a Pina Colada. And those Mickey Ice Cream Bars? A bottle of water will surely cool you off just as well after a hot day in the parks, right?

Sure. Maybe. But if it were that easy (and if this is what I usually ate for breakfast) I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Healthy breakfast option at Satu'li
… and so delicious!

For me, it’s always difficult passing up good food, and on vacation, it’s just that little bit more difficult. Any normal eating schedule you might have at home just goes out the window, and you really do work up an appetite with all that walking, swimming, and the occasional screaming as you plunge down Splash Mountain. To avoid the “dieter’s remorse” when you get back home, here are a few tips to help you stay on track while still enjoying the best that Disney dining has to offer.

  • Remember that buffets are all-you-CARE-to eat, not all-you-CAN-eat. It’s not a race to see how much you can devour in the least amount of time (although if you traveled with my
    Breakfast skillet at Whispering Canyon Cafe
    “Healthy” doesn’t mean giving up what you love!

    boys when they were teenagers, you’d disagree). Eat slowly — eat sensibly — stop when you’re full. You don’t need to completely avoid that skillet on the right; just avoid eating the entire thing.

  • Find Nemo! Fish and chicken are your friends, whether you’re eating low-fat or low-carb. That tenderloin at the California Grill may be the most appetizing entrée on the menu, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you.
  • Go for the salads and veggies. I know this is an obvious tip, but by filling up on lettuce and broccoli instead of cheddar cheese soup, you’ll eat less and eat healthier. Or at least start with the salad so there is less room for the ribs.
  • Drink lots and lots of water! Not only will it perform the very important job of keeping you hydrated, but it will also help fill your stomach.
  • Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat! This is a surefire road to a dieting disaster. Keep carrots, nuts, granola bars, or protein bars in your bag to help you stave off those lets-order-everything-on-the-menu attacks.
  • Remember that along with the many healthy choices already on the menu, you can request that any entrée be prepared to meet your dietary needs. Don’t be shy to ask that something be added or removed.  If you don’t eat bread or pasta, telling your server when ordering will avoid the extra strain on your will power.
  • You can still partake of desserts while on vacation. Sugar-free desserts or cheese plates can satisfy those on low-carb diets, and fresh fruit is always a wonderful and sweet alternative for those who count points or calories.

    Say cheese!
    Charcuterie board at Artist Point
  • With the advent of the dining plan at Walt Disney World, it’s even more difficult to know when to stop. Six of us recently ate in Epcot and of course ordered six appetizers to complement our six entrees — and ate them all. Remember that you’re not wasting your money by sharing an appetizer or dessert, or by not even ordering one. The dining plan is still a bargain, and you’ll feel much better (trust me) if you don’t consume this much food!

While on vacation, lose what matters – lose your stress, lose your inhibitions, maybe lose a little bit of your money (those souvenirs are expensive!), and lose a little bit of yourself in your magical vacation. Lose all of that, but remember that your vacation doesn’t have to be a time when you lose all reason, all of the time.  A healthy and happier you will return!

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