Working Food Freedom at the Most Magical Place on Earth… Disney World

I recently went to Disney World with my family – and to be honest, before the trip, the thought of not being able to make my own food made a little anxious. But I was fresh off a Whole30 coaching round with Judith Forman so I was revved up to succeed in my Food Freedom!

I made a game plan, practiced a lot of self-talk and thought a lot about what makes a food worth for me. I knew I was going to be smart about breakfast and snacks and that I would be as reasonable as possible with lunch and dinner when we were at the various parks.

The good news was that we did have a mini-fridge in our hotel room so I created the cleanest, easiest breakfasts that I could eat on the go while hustling to get my three young kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door. Lettuce boats with mayo and turkey it was! At home, this is a quick lunch I can make when I’m in a rush and need something to eat (also adding tomatoes, pickles and avocado), but for Disney World, this was my staple 5-minute Whole30-ish breakfast. Sometimes I didn’t even manage to make the lettuce boats with romaine but literally took a half a head of romaine, washed and dried it, threw mayo on top and turkey on top of that and shoved it in my mouth while pushing a double stroller. There was nothing about it that was pretty, but honestly, starting my day with delicious fresh food put me in a great mood.

For lunches, a lot of the quick service places (meaning you are using the Disney food plan but not going to a sit-down restaurant) offer at least one variety of salad with protein and dressing. I never found the quick service salad meal to be enough food for me so I supplemented the protein and veggies with dried seaweed and a meat stick. Many of these meals include an alcoholic beverage and as much as I would like to dream about that being a good idea, I opted for water because mid-day drinking at Disney World with three kids sounded awful. I saw it as fueling my body with what it needed at the time instead of looking at the “wasted money.”

My in-laws, who we traveled with, planned on one sit-down meal a day at a restaurant in the parks. This was a great chance to truly practice Food Freedom and think of my “worth it” foods. Each meal came with either an appetizer OR a dessert. I looked at the dessert menu before even ordering to see if there was anything that was truly worth it for me and based on that, decided if I was going to order dessert or an appetizer.

I knew if I didn’t order an appetizer (usually a side salad) I would have been more tempted to have dessert every night. One night at Epcot, we ate dinner at one of the Italian restaurants and tiramisu was a “worth it” dessert for me. It was delicious and worth every bite. I have a serious sweet tooth so although I didn’t choose to have dessert every day, I did have it at least three times. Only one time did I realize that afterwards, it wasn’t worth it and I was really eating it because I felt a weird internal obligation to try it.

I kept alcohol relatively limited because the idea of waking up with a headache from wine or a super sugary cocktail was absolutely NOT worth it. I did have a cider or two at times and a very occasional cocktail (vodka soda.)

Not every moment was successful. My mother-in-law (whom I dearly love) is queen of “kid friendly” snacks (translation: white flour, sugar filled, nutrient empty snacks), and there was a time when I mindlessly grabbed a pack of animal cookies and ate them. Also, our last afternoon at the park, we all had ice cream (mind you ice cream on a hot day is a total weakness for me) and after I finished my ice cream, I finished my daughter’s because she ordered way too much for her little 5-year-old belly.

Overall, I felt like Disney World was a fun and fantastic experience without indulging in everything my taste buds could dream of. I also felt like having a general plan with some specific snacks on hand was enough to help me to not focus on food, enjoy the fun family time and live my Food Freedom in a mindful and balanced manner. I was able to feel energetic the whole time and didn’t have the gluten grumpiness I would have had if I was not practicing a mindful Food Freedom.

My takeaways

  1. Think about what your worth is… Is it a feeling, and experience or a particular flavor?

  2. Start your day off right to set the tone for the rest of your eating. Even though you might have indulged more than was worth it the night before, you have a clean start in the morning.

  3. Have snacks on hand to supplement meals lacking in some of the Whole30 meal template items. For example, I brought Seasnax and some veggie pouches for meals that didn’t have enough veggies. I brought some veggie/ meat sticks for extra protein, Lara Bars and other compliant snack items since we were on the go.

  4. Use your resources: Instacart, Amazon Prime and Thrive Market can be used for deliveries to hotels or vacation rental homes.

  5. Be kind and flexible with yourself. You are on vacation and Food Freedom is a process.