So we went to Disney World last week. Not only did we go to Disney World, the land of dessert, for a week, but we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom and the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. When booking the trip, I could literally feel my waistband expanding as I typed in my debit card info.
But it didn’t.
Aside from the average 8 miles of walking that we did each day, I had a strategy for not gaining weight while enjoying my vacay. (Please note that I did not say that I lost weight during this trip. Let’s get serious people. I tell my girls all the time that weight loss is also about being realistic with ourselves… and the week you travel to Disney is more about maintaining your progress rather than furthering it. So let this be a PSA: do not, I repeat, DO NOT start a “diet” the week before you leave for Disney World.)
My goal was not to make myself miserable denying myself all the deliciousness that Disney had to offer… but also not to be disappointed in myself for overindulging too often and feeling miserable after I got home. To find a happy medium, if you will.
So here are my tips.
Be in the know.
The beautiful thing about Disney is that they have healthy options everywhere! They are very proactive in this area. Sure, they provide the most heavenly mounds of sugar known to man, but they have also implemented items for those who would prefer not to consume 5,000 calories per day. They have even created a symbol to let you know what foods on their menus meet Disney’s Nutritional Guidelines. It is called the Disney Check. These items are going to usually be your safest choices. Now, did I choose Disney Check items every time? No. But I was also very aware of it. I did not use this trip as an excuse to say ” they don’t have any healthy options available so let me grab these fried nuggets and tater tots.” And let’s be honest y’all, a lot of times on vacation we just don’t want to look for the healthier option. There ARE options that are lower calorie and healthier, you just have to make up your mind to actually choose them.
We did the dining plan. So instead of thinking of our meals as breakfast, lunch and dinner, we will think of them in terms of 2 snacks, a quick service and a table service daily. Y’all. It is so much food. Most of our quick service and table service included dessert and alcohol along with the humongous portions that we received. The amount of food they give you is WAY more than we’d usually eat.
If you choose the dining plan option, table service meals require one credit to be used from each person in your party at that meal. I always planned to eat my heaviest at whatever table service meal we had planned (even the healthy options have hefty portions) because they were going to give me the most food and take my credit either way. Several of these were character dining meals which had buffet options. Buffets are golden at Disney because you have the most control over your plate! They always had delicious salads and lean meats. I always saw brown rice or wheat options! I never had a problem choosing healthy at the buffets. And it was great because I could also put a little taste of something “not so healthy” on my plate to enjoy!
For quick service and snack credits, there was no regulation on when and how they could be used. For instance, most of the time at the quick service meals SM and I split a meal. One time we all 3 split one! It is so much food and you are moving so quickly to get back out the door that otherwise it gets wasted. So I ate lighter at those meals.
Now for the snacks… No people. I did not use my snack credit on a banana. I chose yummy things. Particularly Starbucks so that I could survive. (Someone informed me that the drink size or number of espresso shots doesn’t matter when using a snack credit. You can get a Trenta sized coffee with 10 shots and it’s still just one credit.) But we were still conscious with our snack choices. For instance, we HAD to have a cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern. Instead of getting one for each of us, even though we had the credits, we got one and split (again, it was huge). We still kept our food choices in check even though “we had the credits to spend”. Jess (aka Dave Ramsey Jr.) and I joke all the time about how spending money can be the same as “spending” our daily caloric intake. Just because the food is there and readily available doesn’t mean you need to over consume it. Just the same as you shouldn’t spend all your money at Target just because you’ve got it in the bank! Same thing… kind of, right?? We wanted to try that cinnamon roll but we did not want to make ourselves sick off it. Hence, choosing one to split vs. one for each of us.
Ask for substitutions or exchanges. Disney World is the happiest place on earth. It is also one of the only places I was willing to take SM when she had such bad food allergies. The reason is because they will accommodate for almost anything and anyone. It is absolutely amazing!! Want the sauce on the side? Ask. Want to swap fries for a salad? Ask. Want them to cook it a specific way, shape, size? Ask!! They will split items ahead of time, add and delete anything you ask, and do their absolute best to please you, even if it seems like a pain.
So my big secret for not gaining weight at Disney is just being conscious y’all. If you have ever been a client, you know that this is basically my secret for managing life in general. I did not let myself find the excuse to “eat all the things” just because I was on vacation or had walked 20,000 steps that day. If I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t eat it. If that snack didn’t sound like absolute heaven in my mouth, I didn’t order it. I didn’t order anything that I wouldn’t usually order and pay for just because we had a “credit”. I made sure to drink a ton of water. (But I also drank alcohol because I mean, what parent doesn’t in Disney World?) I definitely enjoyed myself and lots of “not so healthy” things, I was just conscious of their portion sizes. And because I made healthy choices the rest of the time, along with all the extra walking, my weight stayed the exact same.
And I know you are wondering… because of our consciousness, we had extra quick service and snack credits left at the end of the trip. We converted our quick service credits to 3 snack credits each and used all our snack credits to buy happies for our family, friends and teachers. Thank you to my awesome travel agent Jennifer Muse with Muse Magical Travels for this suggestion (among a million others) and for booking a last minute and amazing trip for my family!
Don’t forget to sign up for the most recent Lean Queens Challenge… click here for info!