Have your Mickey Bar and Eat it Too – Yes, You Can eat healthy while on a Disney Vacation.
Food Food Food! It’s everywhere! Disney lovers know and dream about the best snacks, best meals, best drinks at each park and resort. So much about a Disney World vacation is magical, including the food choices. But you’ve worked hard to get your body ready to wear shorts and bathing suits and take in the Florida sun. What to do!
I have visited Disney World and come home 10 lbs heavier. And I have visited Disney World and come home 3 lbs lighter (boy was my husband annoyed!). It really is all in how you approach vacation.
Think about what you are eating, but don’t focus on the food. I know, it sounds like a total contradiction. There is so much to see and do on vacation, don’t obsess about what you’re going to eat next. Live for the moment, not for the snack. Before we get to Disney World, I have glanced over the menus of the places at which we have made reservations, and I am at least a little familiar with the counter service options at the locations we will be visiting. I don’t mean memorize them. I mean know that Pizza Planet has, well, pizza! Flame Tree Barbecue has barbecue, turkey legs, and some salad; Cosmic Rays has burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches, and the Roaring Forks has salads, sandwiches, fried food, pizza – a pretty wide selection of foods. Having a basic idea of the restaurants will help you make a better choice when you get hungry.
Walk! A lot! A no brainer at Disney World for most, but every step counts. Did you know that you can walk from the Polynesian to the Transportation Center? or from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom? Or that you can walk from the Boardwalk area resorts to Epcot AND to Hollywood Studios? The calories you burn might just equal that glass of sangria you had at dinner, or the Dole Whip at the Magic Kingdom.
Drink lots of water! Florida heat can really dehydrate you, but so can adult beverages, caffeine, and the salty and sugary snacks. Keeping a water bottle on hand will help you stay hydrated, and may keep you from going for the snacks. Many times you *think* you want that salty popcorn, but really your body just wants water and electrolytes. Keep a water bottle handy, or bring your refillable mug with you to the parks. Soda is not a free refill in the parks, but just about any place that sells fountain sodas will fill your mug with ice water. Florida water can have a different taste depending on what you are used to at home, so try to get water that is filtered through the soda machines, and I like to bring a little container of MIO or Gatorade additives to add some flavor and some electrolytes into my water.
Skip the buffets. Not so easy if you have little ones – all of the character meals are buffets except for Cinderella’s Royal Table. If you do go for a buffet, aim for a balance, and always fill that buffet plate once first with fruit & vegetables (a nice salad is good!) before you load it up with all the other treats on the table.
Enjoy the atmosphere. Theming at Disney restaurants is as varied as the food choices. Take it all in. Put your fork down between bites and enjoy the work that Disney Imagineers put in the designing the restaurant. Did you know that it take 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your stomach is satisfied? If you are rushing through your meal, you may have eaten far more than you really needed without knowing it.
Go ahead – have dessert. But not at every meal. This is a tough one, because the Disney Dining Plan includes dessert with counter service and table service meals. Consider sharing a meal, or getting a dessert that you can have packaged up for later. Then, when you are ready for a snack, you have it. Most people are full from the dinners at Disney, so dessert is just too much right then. Many restaurants have a sugar free or a fresh fruit option in their dessert choices, and cupcakes are popular on the dessert menus of Disney. Fresh fruit is a great choice for traveling – let’s face it: grapes will keep in the Florida heat but cheese cake will only stay fresh for so long, and can get really smashed on Rock n Roller Coaster in that little storage pouch.
Make the most of the Disney Dining Plan. If you have the Disney Dining Plan, make it work for both your wallet and your waistline.
- If you’re eating at a resort, your plan includes a beverage with your meals, but you also get a refillable mug. Fill your mug with your coffee or tea, and grab a bottle of water for your included beverage. Save it for later, when you don’t have a soda fountain or coffee urn handy. Even if you’re not staying at the resort, you can still get your mug filled.
- You can now swap the Dining Plan’s included dessert with a salad, cup or soup or a fruit plate. Ask at the counter or your server when you are ordering.
- Quick service locations don’t differentiate between adult and kid meals – so if you are a light eater, you could order an adult entrée and share it with your child.
- Quick services meals can be substituted for up to three snack items within the same transaction – so if you’ve shared an adult meal, you could order three snacks (muffin, water bottle, side salad, or even 3 Mickey Bars) for that meal later on.
Order appetizers instead of entrees. Many appetizers are big enough to be your meal. On the dining plan? Ask your server if you can substitute or share a meal with someone in your group – you’ll stretch your dining plan and not your waistline!
Order groceries to your room. Grocery delivery services such as Garden Grocer will fill your grocery order for you and deliver it to your resort for check in. All Disney guest rooms have a small fridge, and you are allowed to bring your own food to the counter service dining area at the resort where you can use the toaster or the microwave. Having fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, carrots and cheese sticks --portable snacks, along with a case or two of water in your room will help you keep the calories in check, and the bonus is that you won’t have to rush out the door for early breakfast or be starving when you finally do get there!
Enjoy your vacation - have the Dole Whip, Mickey Bar and the Grey Goose Slushy. (just not all at once!)