Andrea Donsky

Back in January, my husband suggested we take a trip to Disney World for Spring Break. I agreed it would be a great experience for my kids since my 5-year-old daughter is in awe of princesses and my almost 7-year-old son loves roller coasters. But whenever I told someone we were going to Disney World, the immediate reaction was: "You'll have nothing to eat. All they have there is fast food, and lots of it."

Luckily, my business partner, Randy Boyer, went to Disney World with her family back in December, so she recommended that we stay off the Disney property, opting instead for a suite with a fully furnished kitchen and a standard fridge. She suggested we go to a supermarket, buy food for the week, and make our own breakfasts and lunches--that way, the only time we'd have to eat out would be for dinner.

So we did just that. We stayed at a suite about 10 minutes away from the parks, rented a car, and went to Whole Foods Market at least three times during our one-week stay in Orlando. We ate breakfast in our room (some suites include breakfast with their package), made sandwiches for lunch, and looked for as-healthy-as-possible dinner options on the Disney World property.

Disney World is not without healthy options--you just have to look for them. In Animal Kingdom, there's a kiosk with fresh fruit and another kiosk with organic tea and hot beverages.

Epcot was easier than the other parks to find healthy food options since it has a plethora of internationally-inspired restaurants to choose from. We had a reservation for a character lunch at the restaurant Akershus in the Norway pavilion, but I quickly realized I couldn't eat anything on the menu because my diet is gluten-free and dairy-free. However, Disney is very accommodating so long as you give them advance warning. When the chef came out to greet us, he told me he could have prepared something special for me had he known of my dietary restrictions in advance. Nevertheless, he did the best he could with the food he had on hand.

Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios had the fewest healthy food options. There were one or two kiosks with some fresh fruit in the Magic Kingdom, but if you want to eat somewhat healthy while at either of these parks, brown bagging it is the way to go.

If you decide to stay in a suite outside the Disney World property, plan meals with portability in mind.

Sandwiches are simple and easy. Pick up whole wheat or gluten-free bread, pita, or another type of base, as well as an all-natural or organic protein, such as a nut butter, tuna or hardboiled eggs (you can get them prepared in packages of two). And don't forget condiments such as ketchup and mustard.

Snacks are also a must. Yogurt cups, fiber or protein bars, fruit leathers, organic trail mix, dried fruits, and nuts and seeds are handy, healthy, and a big hit with kids and adults alike.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are also great for snacks or as a side during lunch, but look for options that travel well. Oranges can take plenty of jostling, and they offer a quick pick-me-up in the late afternoon when your kids' energy levels dip. Carrots, celery, mini cucumbers, bell peppers, and green beans are also great grab-and-go options.

When you're planning meals, don't forget hydration. All-natural juice boxes are great because they contain sugar and nutrients to keep your kids going all day long, but be sure to also take along a re-useable drink bottle that can be filled with water each morning (if you're worried that the water isn't filtered, pick up a large jug of water with a spigot on it to fill your water bottles from each morning).

Don't forget to pick up breakfast foods such as low-sugar, whole-grain cereals and organic dairy milk, or an alternative such as soy or almond milk.

With a little bit of planning and effort anyone can eat healthy foods while vacationing at Disney World. And because we ate healthy food all week, we had plenty of energy to park hop for five days, thoroughly enjoying our trip--though I could use a vacation now that I'm back.

© Naturally Savvy






Children's Health - Healthy Eating at Disney World is Possible