We just returned from a fun-filled family vacation to Walt Disney World.
When Avery was born, my in-laws said they wanted to take him on his first big trip to Walt Disney World and we finally made it all happen. We wanted to wait until he was old enough to enjoy the rides and characters, but we chose to go before his third birthday so his ticket would be free. If you think you have to wait until your child is five or six before taking them to Walt Disney World, you really don’t! We all had so much fun experiencing Disney through Avery’s eyes. He met so many of his favorite characters (his favorites were Goofy, Kylo Ren, the Storm Troopers and Elsa), sat relatively well through the shows and LOVED the rides. His favorites were Pirates of the Caribbean and The Barnstormer. He just giggled through so many of the rides and reached out for objects in the 3-D shows like Mickey’s Philharmagic and it was seriously the best week ever.
I can never say enough good things about Disney, but that isn’t the point of today’s post (feel free to comment/send me any questions about Disney, though…I am happy to help!). In the past, I’ve written about how we stuck to our healthy eating plan at Disney World. We were following a strict Paleo diet during our first couple trips, but we’ve since dropped the whole Paleo gig for a more realistic, well-rounded approach to health. Because of that, today’s post is more about how we found a healthy balance during our Disney trip. There is so much to do, see, eat and experience at Walt Disney World and there is no reason to deny yourself any of the indulgences (food or otherwise) that Disney has to offer.
Our Big Announcement!
To help you understand the rest of this post, I am going to lead off with our big announcement instead of holding off until the end. On the first morning of our trip, we had Avery surprise his grandparents with a special shirt to share our big news. Later in the day, Mickey helped him share the news with my parents, who were back home in Kentucky, and a few close friends. We sent them this photo of Avery and Mickey:
That’s right! Later this fall (September/October-ish) Avery is going to be a big brother. We are so excited, but it did throw a bit of a wrench into our Disney plans because I am deep in the throes of morning (more like all-day) sickness and I was really bummed at the prospect of being sick at Disney. Because I am at the mercy of my hormones right now, I am trying to be gentle on myself and eat what sounds good at the moment. This mostly consists of whatever doesn’t make me want to hurl. I’ll share more about that in another post, but it helps me set up the Disney story a bit. 🙂
So, what did this baby mama eat at Walt Disney World?
Back to the beginning…our trip began with a 15 hour road-trip from Indiana to Orlando. We left at 4:00am so breakfast was mostly snacks, deli meat and fruit. That didn’t hold us over long and I was craving real breakfast food around 10:30am so we stopped at Cracker Barrel. All restaurants should serve all day breakfast. I shared a plate of sausage, eggs, bacon, biscuits and grits with Avery. I continued to snack on rice cakes, berries, Epic Bars, Lara Bars and apples in the car because eating seems to be one of the only things that helps me manage my nausea. Unfortunately, the long car ride didn’t help, but I was actually feeling better than I had been for the past few weeks. I think it was all the excitement of Disney!
When we finally arrived and met up with Kevin’s parents in our awesome Lion King family suite at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort around 8:00 at night. We are all ready for food so we headed out a few miles from the hotel to a local brewery. I hadn’t eaten salad in at least a month because raw veggies were one of the first foods to go on my “sick list” when my nausea started to kick in around six weeks pregnant. Since I was finally feeling a little more like myself, I had a huge salad with chicken. It felt so good to actually eat something fresh!
One of the awesome things about Art of Animation’s family suites is the kitchenette with a microwave and mini-fridge. I knew that I wanted to enjoy some of Disney’s culinary indulgences, so starting the day with a healthy breakfast was a great way to ensure I was getting some good nutrition in to balance out the yummy foods I wanted to try. We stocked the fridge with eggs, fruit, cheese, avocados and chicken sausage and brought along this handy microwave egg cooker that I found on Amazon for only $10.
Because I know snacking is the key to managing my nausea, I packed a small cooler of snacks into the parks every day. I promise I didn’t keep all of the snacks to myself. I shared. 🙂 We brought in lots of water, trail mix, apples, grapes, almond and peanut butter packets and lots of snack bars. Because we were walking about ten miles a day each day, I knew I needed to eat even more than I was used to in order to get enough calories.
I was NOT going to deprive myself of the wonderful food at Disney
Some days we ate lunch in the park and some days we went back to the room to eat sandwiches and veggie chips. We ate all of our dinners in the parks and we had some AMAZING food. Before I get into the details of our tasty treats, let’s talk about balance for a moment. Barring any major allergies, health conditions or food sensitivities, there is no reason to deny yourself a few treats while on vacation.
Take our special Valentine’s dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant, for example. I had the pork chop with carrots and mushroom bread pudding, but I couldn’t get out of there without trying the Grey Stuff…yes, the very same Grey Stuff that Lumiere sang about in the iconic Disney movie. It wasn’t the best dessert I’ve ever had, but it was just fun to say I’d had the Grey Stuff! At our breakfast with Donald and friends at Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House, I had eggs, sausage, plantain and fruit. I couldn’t resist topping it all of with a couple of Mickey waffles, though, because Mickey waffles just taste better than other waffles. Sure, I could blame it all on the baby, but the truth is that I would have made these choices even if that growing baby inside me wasn’t asking for a sweet treat. 🙂
What does healthy balance mean?
I’ve been at both extremes of healthy eating. I’ve been through periods in my life where I didn’t think twice about whether the food I put into my body was providing me with vital nutrition and I’ve followed a strict Paleo diet. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I am happier now than I was during either of these times.My health was not at its best when I was eating mostly fast food, cereal, cookies, crackers and Lean Pockets. On the flip side of the coin, though, I think Paleo is unnecessarily strict and limiting. I spent too many years missing out on things for virtually no reason at all. If you focus on eating healthy, minimally processed foods the majority of the time, there is always room for a treat…especially a Mickey Ice Cream!
One ice cream bar or one order of french fries is not going to lead to heart disease or diabetes. Staying active, eating real food, spending time with loved ones, stress management and adequate sleep are the little daily choices that that we make day in and day out that add up and can either set us up for a lifetime of wellness or a lifetime of health issues. The occasional treat is not going to make or break your success or ruin your progress. The toughest part of living a life of balance is that we have to shoulder so much of the responsibility ourselves. There are no hard and fast rules, as there are with many diet plans. In the long run, though, it is much more important for us to learn for ourselves how to manage this balance.
I can honestly say that this was the best Disney trip of my adult life because I was carefree, laid back and chose to simply enjoy myself without worrying about every bite of food that went into my mouth. In the past, I spent too much time worrying whether something was gluten-free or what oil it was cooked in or if it had added sugar. This time, I just had fun. I walked daily, let myself sleep when I needed it, enjoyed some much-needed time with family and indulged when I wanted to. In my mind, there is nothing healthier than that.
Want more tips on navigating Disney during pregnancy? Read my POPSUGAR Mom’s post on Tips for Doing Disney While Pregnant!