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How To Eat Healthy In Disneyland

I married into a Disney-loving family.  My husband has amazing childhood memories of his trips to Disneyland. It is inevitable that our children will have them too, as it is near and dear to his heart. As an adult, I get the attraction. There is something indescribable about seeing the amazement and wonder on your children’s faces when they lock eyes with their favorite Disney character. Or when the Electric Light Parade passes by and they can’t contain their excitement. Someday, that innocence will fade, so I am with him. Let’s enjoy that magical moment while it lasts.

Disney Bender

In 2015, almost 18.5 million people visited Disneyland in Anaheim. For the average Disney goer, trips to Disneyland mean a 3-day binge on corn dogs, pretzels, and Mickey shaped ice cream treats. But that binge just leaves you feeling YUCK. That is a whole lotta corn dogs!

Disney Does Most Things Right

You can’t dispute Disney does everything right. Well, mostly.

The one thing they could improve on is food selection. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve made major strides. Like anything though, you can’t be a victim of choice. Instead, you have to be a victim of your own success and plan for your adventure to the Happiest Place on Earth.

When I began my healthy journey and lifestyle years ago, we had a Disney trip planned. I’ll admit I was terrified of how I could manage my healthy choices and also so excited to put my hard work and food awareness to the test. I’d already managed to make Disney food happen gluten-free, now I was determined to make it happen within the framework of my goals.

The take home from this post is food awareness.  This post will help you navigate Disneyland with heightened food awareness and a greater sense of success having “survived” and still maintained your nutritional goals.

How to Eat Healthy In Disneyland With These 7 Simple Steps

Eat Breakfast Outside The Park

I think this one is a necessity on so many levels. Depending on the season, the park opens somewhere between 8 and 10 am. Who wants to spend their first hour at the park, when things are less busy, eating?Not us!  That is our time to get on as many rides as possible before the crowd arrives.

Eat breakfast at the hotel if offered. Many hotels near Disney recognize this need and offer great buffet or made-to-order options. We love staying at the Embassy Suites at Hilton, Anaheim South because of their made-to-order omelet options, fresh fruit, and a host of other selections to start the day. Not to mention it is fun, budget-friendly, and well located. Don’t be afraid to ask for things that meet your needs like egg whites. They may not advertise their availability but often have them standing by.

If your hotel doesn’t offer breakfast, then prepare a simple meal in your hotel room of oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, and fresh fruit. I have vivid memories as a child of my mom bringing in an electric skillet to prepare some amazing hotel room breakfasts that saved money and were healthier for us.

Bring In Your Food

Disneyland’s food policy permits you to enjoy your own food in the picnic areas just outside the gates. However, one look around you can see hundreds of people enjoying snacks they packed in to save money, time and health. I’ve never been asked to take my food elsewhere. They do permit you to bring in food if you have a specific dietary need or allergy which is really the grey area that allows almost everyone to bring in what they like.

My suggestion is pack food that will help you maintain a lean intake as you are likely to eat more fat in your meals out when needed. Also, pack things that are protein packed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my family goes, I pack lunch meat, hard boiled eggs, fruit, fruit and veggie squeeze pouches, and usually some type of bar as a snack. Check out my vacation travel post (you can download the ebook here) for a long list of snack ideas that will work perfectly for Disneyland.

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Find the Hidden Snack Places

Disney has improved their snack options. Path side vendors have carts filled with fresh fruits, some veggies, and even some not so sugary laden snacks.

But protein-packed snacks are still hard to come by, as is the case during most travel. My favorite go-to protein snack is Bengal Barbecue in Adventure land in Disneyland. They have some awesome chicken, beef, and even bacon wrapped asparagus skewers. A simple, and cost-effective, way to snack on something to keep that protein up, keep you full (but not stuffed) while walking, and curb the cravings for sugar and unhealthy treats.

 

 

 

Since I was a child, pickles have been my jam!  I once ate an entire jar in one sitting. Then, I puked them up all night on the bathroom floor. Lesson learned — eat pickles in moderation.

But a gigantic pickle from the Main Street General Store or another vendor is another great option to fill you up without breaking the healthy eating train. I love volume food!

Choose Your Dessert Wisely

Yep — how could I not mention dessert? A sweet treat in Disneyland is almost a requirement, right?

Two words — Dole Whip. The Dole Whip is a must in the Disney Parks, (located at the Tiki Hut in Adventureland) especially in the late afternoon when the weather heats up. It is a non-dairy soft serve yogurt indulgence and brings back so much nostalgia.

It’s not a horrible choice to cure that Disney sweet tooth for sure. A local yogurt shop even carries the “Dole Whip” flavor which brings back Disney memories when you can’t be at the happiest place on earth.

Bring Your Own Water Bottle

One reason many people feel exhausted after a day of Disney is not always screaming children and over stimulation. It is often dehydration. It is easy to move through the day with a “do everything” attitude that you forget to drink your usual water intake. Take advantage of Disney’s newer water refill stations and bring your own water bottle to refill all day for FREE. Not too many things are free at Disneyland so drink as much as you can. It makes that pricey ticket more worth it (lol).

 

Disney Check Meals

Disney has done a great job of advertising the new “Mickey Check” program. My kids have come running to me to tell me all about Mickey’s desire for them to eat healthier after seeing television commercials. Well done Mickey, well done.

But what does this really mean?  Disney’s Mickey check seeks to help families find healthier options both inside and outside the Disneyland Parks and Resorts. To receive a Mickey Check, a meal or snack must meet certain nutritional standards.

Although the dietary guidelines don’t provide specific macronutrient information, they are a better selection for both kids and parents alike. You will find Mickey Check items in most sit-down restaurant selections within the park and lots of brands at home.

(Tired of sabotaging your healthy eating habits? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Plan Your Big Meal

If you are going to eat out at one of Disney’s restaurants for a nice dining experience during your time at the park, pick it wisely. Plan ahead and look at what each restaurant has to offer. Making a reservation will save you time and will guarantee you healthier options to support your goals. If you wait until your family is HANGRY you are likely to settle for something far less healthy and less filling in the heat of the (hangry) moment.

My favorite place to eat at the Disney Parks is just outside the Park at Tortilla Jo’s, a Mexican food restaurant. In fact, Mexican food is one of my regular go-tos because I can control the ingredients and navigate gluten free options more easily. They have amazing fajitas and other options for the entire family.  My kids love the balloon artist that can make the most amazing Disney balloon characters (seriously..they are talented.)

Overall, Disney is magic. And you don’t have to stop your healthy lifestyle to be there in the moment. While there is nothing wrong with treating yourself a little bit, these tips can help you eat healthier at Disneyland, while still being a part of the fun!

Do you have another tip I missed to eat healthy at Disneyland?  I’d love to hear it below.

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