Recently, the wife and kids and I visited the second happiest place on earth: Disneyland! (I say second happiest because Disneyworld in Florida is slightly happier!)
As a lot of you know and have probably experienced, it can be tricky to stick to a healthy diet whenever your travel. Especially if you adhere to the Paleo diet like our family does.
So today I want to tell you just how we did it, just in case you want to get a few pointers for your next trip. If you’re not familiar with Paleo, here are the basics: several foods groups are eliminated, including all grains, dairy, legumes/beans and other processed foods and refined sugars. Whole foods like healthy meats and fresh vegetables are emphasized, and eggs, nuts and seeds are also allowed.
Before I dive into our story, let me also tell you this: the way that we do Paleo while traveling is pretty difficult and doesn’t focus on eating out for each meal. That may not sound real “vacationy” to a lot of you, but health and nutrition are a high priority for us.
And now the story!
First off, I actually met Claire (my wife) and kids in Anaheim after attending a 2-day course in San Diego. This may seem like an insignificant detail, but you’ll understand how much more difficult this made things, as Claire had to do all the preparation and packing by herself, while keeping our 2 kids entertained!
The way that we approach traveling for vacations over the last few years looks like this: we try to pack all of our food for breakfast and lunch, and then we try to eat out for dinner at a nice restaurant that can accommodate our diet. Claire also packs snacks and treats for all of us, so the packing list really gets large (our bags were about 30# lighter on the way home from California…that’s a lot of food!).
This year’s food packing list included the following foods (and I’m probably forgetting a lot of them): turkey burgers, meatballs, salmon, huge bag of salad, separate bag of salad toppings, jars of olive oil and apple cider vinegar for salad dressing, pumpkin Paleo pancakes, a loaf of Paleo bread, almond butter, snap peas, various nuts, strawberries, blueberries, assorted bars for the kids, ginger cookies, pumpkin “cheesecake” bars, a bag of figs, chocolates and chocolate covered almonds.
Pretty crazy right?!
After eating breakfast in our room, with the kids finishing theirs’ in the stroller on the way to the park, we also had to figure out how to pack our lunches for the day. This involved taking several pieces of glass Tupperware and tin containers, which we stored in lunch box coolers.
We’d load everything into our rented double stroller and head across the street for a day of fun! After enjoying the rides, keeping the kids well-fed, and visiting the bathrooms about 15 times, we’d end up for dinner at a nice restaurant (like Blue Bayou which is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride).
Eating Paleo at a nice restaurant isn’t too tricky, as long as you’re willing to speak up to your server. In general, you tend to focus on a good proteins as well as lots of veggies. We tend to lean towards wild-caught fish whenever we can, as we’re not big fans of conventionally raised beef, chicken and pork.
After a nice dinner with the family, we’d return to our hotel across the street and enjoy a treat before turning in for bed.
Sounds like a nice time, doesn’t it?
After a ton of batch cooking and freezing of the extra portions leading up to the vacation, we were able to enjoy 5 days in the 2 Disney parks, and all my wife’s hard work paid off.
So in a nutshell, eating Paleo at Disneyland in totally doable, as long as you’re prepared to put in the hard work and preparation leading up to the vacation.
Here are a couple more tips for eating Paleo on vacation:
1. Book a condo or a room with a kitchen if possible. On our recent trip, we stayed at a hotel right across the street from Disneyland, which is super convenient. The downside however is that we were relying on a mini-fridge and weren’t able to cook things like eggs and sausage for breakfast. We’ll probably look into staying in a condo next time we go, just to have the extra fridge and freezer space and to be able to cook a hot breakfast. If you’re looking to save some money, you could also cook lunch or dinner and not eat out as much.
2. If you’re not into packing so much of your own food (or buying groceries to bring back to your condo), Disney does have plenty of Paleo options for breakfast, lunch and snacks. We tend to just eat out for dinner, because it’s the easiest for us, and we really don’t enjoy eating out as much as we used to (something about having 2 small kids has changed our view about sitting down to eat!). So if you prefer a vacation where you don’t have to cook so much for yourself, it can definitely be done!
I want to wrap this blog post up with a few of our favorite moments from Disneyland.
Our Top 3 Disney Memories
1. Jules had an amazing time on some of the bigger rides that he hasn’t been able to ride until this trip! This included Indiana Jones and Hyperspace Mountain. Like his parents, he loves roller coasters and other thrill rides, like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain.
2. Viola rode her first roller coaster in Toon Town (Gadget’s Go Coaster). Like the rest of us, she absolutely loved it and was laughing loudly the whole time!
3. Claire and I were able to enjoy several nice dinners out, and the kids did great at the restaurants! We were also able to enjoy several nice bottles of wine together while in California Adventure. This is the second Disney park. They still don’t serve alcohol in Disneyland itself.
If you have any more questions about eating Paleo, either at home or while on vacation, please send me an email at Luke@GordonPhysicalTherapy.com or give me a call at the clinic.
And if you ever need tips on traveling to Disneyland or Disneyworld, I can definitely help you there as well!
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