A coworker of mine inspired this blog post. We were chatting recently about her amazing weight loss (she’s lost over 50 pounds so far and looks great!) and she voiced her anxiety about an upcoming family vacation to some theme parks. It got me thinking…how DO you stay on plan and order the right foods when you are faced with fried food options? Restaurant eating is hard enough, what about those theme park food carts? Disastrous!
Obviously you can’t bring in your own food to someplace like a state fair or Disneyland. Otherwise, my suggestion would be to bring your own healthy snacks (apples, bananas, protein bars, etc).
Although, I’d honestly probably stash a few easy snacks in my purse (package of nuts, protein bar, or granola bar) and try to bring it in. This post is the result of some brain-storming on how to avoid the fried foods trap at theme parks.
Look For Protein
Protein is your healthiest bet for theme-park eating. This is a tightrope, however, because a lot of the proteins will be fried: fried chicken, fish n’ chips, corndogs and so on. Some of the ideas I had for “good” protein are these:
Cheeseburgers or veggie burgers without the bun. Skipping the bun will probably save 250 calories (and a lot of carbs).
Chicken and veggie kebabs. “Meat on a stick” isn’t hard to find at a fair, just look for the right kind!
How about a chicken wrap? Or ham wrap? The wraps usually have less calories and carbs than a bread sandwich option. Go light on the cheese and mayo and you should be good.
Get Fish n’ chips but remove the breading and give your fries to a friend to eat.
Look for grilled or rotisserie chicken options instead of fried. When I was at the Texas State Fair last year, I saw people walking around with huge turkey legs. It looked bizarre, but it’s probably a smart choice (as long as it’s not deep fried).
Fish tacos! They are delicious and if it’s not fried, a much better option for lunch.
Fruit and Veggies
This will probably be the harder find in a park. I can’t remember if I ever saw these types of options available. Really, I just remember caramel apples!
Look for fruit options whenever you can. Apples, bananas, oranges are easy and often an overlooked item at a food cart.
Apple slices with caramel are usually found at Fairs. But skip the caramel.
Salads with dressing on the side — see if you can add chicken to your Caesar salad
You don’t have to deprive yourself of every treat at your day of fun. The trick with eating in moderation is eating things you like in smaller portions. Other tip: share with other people. Sometimes all you really need is a few bites of something sweet.
Get frozen yogurt but skip the toppings. I’m a little iffy on this one. I don’t know that frozen yogurt is that much better than ice cream…
How about a fruit smoothie? It would be a satisfying and better way to beat the heat.
Split an ice cream cone with your partner.
Get a popsicle instead of ice cream.
Is there a Starbucks in the park? They have healthier options — sandwiches, yogurt with granola, fruit salad, etc.
Look for Greek food! It’s much healthier–get a pita sandwich with veggies and hummus, or a gyro and go light on the sauce.
Is there Asian food as an option? Get a veggie, meat and rice bowl.
Watch the liquid calories. Skip the soda and lemonade and get iced tea.
If you skip the butter, popcorn actually isn’t that bad for you.
Finally, try doing a Slow-Carb Diet for awhile. Beans, beans, beans! I’m telling you. It’s a good choice. And if there is Mexican food options you’re golden. Get beans and protein, skip the rice and you’ll be full and happy.
As always, watch portion sizes. I’m sure theme park portions are just as huge as restaurant portions. Share one meal with a friend or partner and supplement that other sandwich half with fruit.
I think what the hardest part is about going to fairs and parks is not necessarily the lack of options, but really the hardest part is TEMPTATION. Walking through the park, hot from the sun, hanging out with friends and family, seeing strangers walk around with huge pretzels dripping in cheese or ridiculously sloppy cheeseburgers can hard to resist. Stay strong!
If you do give in to temptation, just remember that it’s not the end of the world. You CAN reverse the slip-up by making good choices the rest of the time. One treat will not undo all your efforts…as long as you keep working at it!
QUESTION: What are your suggestions for surviving theme park eating?