Theme parks aren’t exactly well known for their healthy eating options. Most places specialize in greasy fast food options like burgers and fries or chicken strips. If you’re lucky you might find a chicken sandwich that isn’t fried. That’s not to mention all of the sugary confections. From cotton candy to mile high ice cream cones, a day at the amusement park can seem like an exercise in gluttony.
While there isn’t much that will curb your screams on the newest roller coaster, there are some ways to make your food choices a little less frightening during your visit.
1. Check menus beforehand
Most theme parks have, at a minimum, a list of the various food options and restaurants available in the park. Knowing where the best options are ahead of time will help you have a plan. Make reservations if you can and stick to your healthy-eating plan. The worst thing you can do is let yourself get too hungry and then be tempted by the wafting scent of waffle cones and corn dogs.
Times have changed. You might be surprised about what you find at many of the restaurants in theme parks. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are often available and some parks even have snack carts carrying fresh fruit and light snacks.
4. Bring your own snacks
Contrary to popular belief, many theme parks do not mind if you bring in food. If you find there are not many good options for your dietary needs, or just your conscience, do not hesitate to bring some nutritious kids' snacks with you.
At a minimum, apples, granola bars, homemade trail mix, packets of natural nut butter and rice cakes, even yogurt tubes travel well in an insulated lunch bag. If you have the space, you can even bring refillable water bottles and fill them up at drinking fountains throughout the park.
3. Let yourself have a treat
If you say each and every deliciously decadent treat is of the list, you may end up rebelling and eating your way through the park. Does that ice cream cart you just passed have chocolate covered bananas? Well, that’s a pretty decent treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth and prevent you from caving when you pass the funnel cake shack.
Even a caramel covered apple is a better choice than many of the sugar-filled snacks, as long as you don’t go overboard and eat extra caramel – none of that triple-dipped with extra sprinkles nonsense!
4. Be high maintenance
Go ahead, do it. Order that salad dressing on the side, tell them to leave the sauce off your sandwich or ask them to ditch the fries in place of something else if they have it. There is no shame in making smart choices and any well-run theme park will be happy to accommodate your requests.
5. Do the best that you can
If it comes down to it and you simply can’t find anything that is actually healthy, or couldn’t bring in any of your own food, cut yourself some slack and make the best choices you have given the circumstances.
Have water with your meal instead of soda and order the least fried food you can find. Opt for the regular hot dog instead of the corn dog if you have to, but don’t tangle yourself in a knot and ruin what should be a fun-filled day of family and friends.