Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eating at Disney Land

As I began my experience at the happiest place on earth, I considered the eating dilemmas that awaited me. Disneyland just in time for lunch. Instead of worrying about them, I embraced them as part of life.

As my group and I walked in we decided to eat immediately so we could get it out of the way. As I looked over the menu of hot dogs and french fries, I realized this day was going to be a challenge. I don’t love hot dogs but, at the time, I didn’t want to make everyone leave. I decided to make the best of it. On the kid’s menu I found a turkey dog that came with a bottle of water, fruit cocktail and a cool carry all box.

I received a little teasing for the bright and colorful box but I soon realized that I had made the right decision. The turkey dog combo was cheaper and came with healthier items. Despite the laughs from the group about the animated box, I felt quite comfortable with my selection. Trying to cut as many calories as possible I opted to use mustard and a bit of ketchup instead of mayonnaise. Satiated and ready to move on I decided that I had made it over the first hurdle. The food was cheaper, offered better portion size and came with both water and fruit as a side.

In the hustle and bustle of the day, I was very aware of what people were eating and I checked to see if there was anything new that I should try. Everyone was eating everything but what really caught my attention was the smell of the delicious churros that hung in the air. However, pressed for time and as the clouds were threatening, we preceded onward.

Next, we rode the Jungle Ride, Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. It was mid-afternoon and we were all starving again. At this point I changed my article to be about making a theme park and your diet work for you. After all, the benefits of a theme park are that you’re walking for hours and burn lots of calories. So I decided to splurge for the group and buy a deep-fried turkey leg and a chimmichanga. Split four ways, these two decadent treats were somewhat manageable.

At this point my experience was no longer about finding the healthiest foods but about being able to enjoy an experience with friends and not feel confined to a diet. I was living life to the fullest. I made the choice to split and not hoard and, when it was possible, I added things that would benefit me or contained less calories.

After our salty and high calorie snacks, plus the massive amounts of walking we were doing, I knew dehydration was a threat. I took the time to encourage my friends to drink water instead of sugar-filled sodas so we could enjoy our fun filled day.

Hydrated and slightly sick from inhaling the food, we went on more rides;Space Mountain, Peter Pan and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. We finished the day on the recently brought back Captain Neo. It was wonderful to step back in time, appreciate Michael Jackson in all his glory and see technology at its best in 198?.

As we left the theater the clouds were threatening to storm. Tired and full, we decided to buy our souvenirs and end the day on a high note. As we ran to get our souvenir, Mickey Mouse Ears, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need or really want the much-anticipated churro. Even though I love them, I let my body decide instead of my desire. Churros will give me something to look forward to the next time I come to Disneyland.

In the beginning this day was about eating the best and the healthiest stuff I could find and then it became about enjoying the day and eating in moderation but still enjoying life. I felt like I could go with the flow and create a happy medium where I could feel comfortable eating with the group. I was confident in myself for making the best choices I could make.

The next day, it was back to my routine of green tea, good snacks, salads and lots of vegetables and good healthy proteins. Keeping a regular routine doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on all the so-called pleasures of life.

Similar to holidays where you indulge on foods that you don’t typically eat, a trip to an amusement park can offer the same challenges. It’s important to feel like you can be part of an experience and groups of people without feeling isolated because of a diet. You have to be smart about what you eat and make good decisions when a challenging situation arises. Don’t allow a lapse to become a relapse. If you can mentally allow yourself without guilt to indulge in high fat and calorie foods for a day it will make it easier to choose to go back to a healthier diet tomorrow.

Happy Cooking!

Chef Mary

This Friday I will be sharing some great St. Patrick's Day Recipes