Planning a trip to Orlando and the theme parks? My healthy eating tips below will help keep you and your entire family feeling fully energized and ready to hit the rides!
Since my husband and I grew up in south Florida, we have trekked to Orlando’s numerous theme parks countless times— both when we were kids and now with our own son, Blake. At this point I seriously think we could both qualify as official theme park expert tour guides (lol.)
But in all seriousness, if you are not properly prepared, then a full day at a south Florida theme park can totally wipe the whole family out, both physically and mentally. And trust me, the worst thing in the world is to return home from an Orlando “vacation” feeling as if you just finished filming an episode of Survivor!
We spent last weekend in Orlando taking Blake to Universal Studios and Sea World’s Aquatica water theme park and so I thought I would share some of my healthy eating tips that helped me maintain my zip, pep and go throughout the weekend…
Clean Eating (and Drinking) Tips for the Orlando Theme Parks
BYOS (Bring Your Own Snacks)
Unfortunately, clean eating is not always convenient when you leave the convenience of your home kitchen. And so, when it comes to giving healthy eating tips for travelers, my number one best suggestions is to always, always bring your own snacks. Since we travel a lot, I bought a “Fit & Fresh” retro-styled insulated lunch bag (see photo to the right) that I always bring along on our trips. It looks a lot better than brining a brown paper bag, plus it is easy to clean and reuse.
One very interesting thing I have noticed about the theme parks is that they almost always have a sign at the entrance that says something like “No Outside Food or Beverages Allowed in the Park.” Similar to airports, the theme parks also always have people who look through your bags before you are allowed to go through the gates. However, the interesting thing is I always bring food with me and the bag-checkers always see it when they go through my bag and they never make me throw it out. So do not let the sign intimidate you!
For the Orlando trip, here is what I packed in my lunch bag for our two days at the theme parks:
- “Real and Wonderful” Crackers (see photo below): I just discovered these before this recent trip and they are truly the first ever really healthy cracker that actually tastes amazing. I love that the first ingredient is a vegetable and that they do not have added oil. And no flour either. Plus, if you are gluten-free they don’t have that either. The ingredients are super clean: sweet red peppers, natural raw almonds, organic gluten-free oats, organic brown flax seeds, sea salt, organic thyme, organic rosemary and organic oregano. The crackers can be purchased online and for a discount at Vitacost. ***Note: These crackers are the only thing that enabled us to stand in the 4+ hour line for the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley ride!
- “Veggie Krunch” by Alive & Radiant Foods (see photo below): These taste amazing! Offered in an assortment of flavors, my favorite is the Teriyaki Greens. The ingredients are pure and clean: kale, coconut, carrots, collards, sesame seeds, wheat-free Tamari sauce, coconut palm sugar (note: coconut palm sugar is NOT a refined sugar and just like raw honey, it does contain some nutrition), chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, ginger and garlic. Veggie Krunch can be purchased online and for a discount at Vitacost.
- “Organic Apple Cinnamon with Hemp Granola” by Go Raw (see photo below): This is one of only a few packaged granolas I will eat because it doesn’t have added sugars and oils. It is perfect for eating right out of the bag (which is what I am doing at Sea World’s Aquatica water park in the photo below.) Although it makes a great snack, I had actually brought the granola with us on the trip for breakfast because I knew from experience that having a leisurely sit down breakfast on theme park day is usually not an option. That’s because my husband and son always like to arrive at the parks first thing in the morning when the gates open. And this trip turned out to be no exception—especially since the new “must-see” Harry Potter Diagon Alley ride just opened! So, on the first morning of the trip I simply called room service and ordered us each a large bowl of fruit and topped it off with the Go Raw granola, drank my large cup of coffee and breakfast was done. Not only do I love how the Go Raw granola tastes I also love the ingredients: sprouted organic buckwheat groats, sprouted organic sunflower seeds, organic dates, sprouted organic sesame seeds, organic coconut (unsulphured),organic hemp seeds, organic apples (unsulphured), organic cinnamon, organic vanilla extract, organic orange oil and celtic sea salt. Go Raw Granola can be purchased online and for a discount at Vitacost.
And of course I always pack along some fruits, vegetables and raw nuts. I usually bring the fresh produce from home and then just store it all in the hotel’s refrigerator during our stay.
For the Orlando trip I packed the following:
- Mini bell peppers: These are available in the produce department of just about any supermarket these days. They are much tastier than the bigger bell peppers and they don’t need to be cut.
- Carrots: I always buy carrots with the leafy greens still intact because they just taste so much better. I break the green tips off and wash my carrots before putting them in the bag.
- Bananas: This is always such a perfect travel food! Bananas are especially good for bringing to the Florida theme parks though because they help replace the potassium you lose through sweating (and trust me, no matter what, you will be sweating at the park)
- Raw almonds (note: avoid almonds roasted in pro-inflammatory omega-6 rich oils)
BYOT (Bring Your Own Tea)
I can’t imagine spending a day in the sun anywhere without drinking REAL green tea.
That’s because REAL green tea is incredible for protecting your skin against sunburn and premature sun-induced skin aging. However, you can’t just get any old green tea if you want to reap the sun-protecting benefits. The vast majority of green tea sold in the United States (Lipton comes to mind here) is not the “real deal”.
My three favorite superior quality REAL green tea brands include:
- 1. Ito En brand “Sencha Shot” Mini Cans (in the photo above)—These little cans are only 6.4 fl ounces each and perfect for taking to the theme parks. In addition to protecting your skin from the sun they will absolutely perk you up too! But, unlike coffee, you won’t get the jitters from drinking this. You can purchase Ito En brand green teas at natural foods stores (they are also available online and for a discount from Vitacost.) This is the green tea I brought with me on the Orlando trip.
- 2. Teavana Imperial Matcha Japanese Green Tea —Sold as powdered green tea that dissolves in water (available from Teavana.com), this smooth and full-bodied Matcha tea is absolutely delicious and I love how you can make it as strong or as weak as you like. If you buy it for traveling though, be sure to get the smaller 1.4 ounce size container (it sound small, but this will make many cups of tea by the way!)
- 3. Costco’s Kirkland brand Green Tea—You can only buy these at Costco and you need to have a Costco membership to do that. However, Costco’s tea is sold as individual tea bags and perfect for keeping in your purse. When we go to restaurants I usually ask for a cup of hot water and add a tea bag to it. An interesting little tidbit to know is that Costco’s tea is manufactured by Ito En, the tea I recommend above (and also in the photo to the above.)
Add a “Booster” to Your Water Bottle
You will absolutely need to stay hydrated at the parks. The best way to do this is to drink lots and lots of water.
However, for maximum health, energy and added sun-protecting benefits, you will want to add one serving (or individual packet) of a phytonutrient “booster” to your water bottle at some point in the day.
What is a phytonutrient booster?
If you read our Clean Cuisine book or took our Clean Cuisine Challenge you might recall Day 1, where we explained the oh-so-many anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and health-boosting phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables. If you don’t have the book or missed the Challenge then by all means, be sure to READ THIS so you will be “in the know” when it comes to phytonutrients. Trust me, once you read the amazing benefits of these superfood substances you will be very motivated to give your water bottle a big “boost!”
Many phytonutrient supplements exist, but we like Barlean’s Greens, Green Vibrance and Amazing Grass Green Superfood. These are powdered phytonutrient boosters made from “whole” fruits and vegetables (not isolated ingredients) that come in powdered form.
For the Orlando trip I took “Amazing Grass Superfood Pineapple Lemongrass” with us because they were easy to bring in little individual packets (see photo to the left) and I liked the summery flavor. But Amazing Grass offers plenty of additional flavors (including chocolate, mixed berry and many more.) The boosters really do taste SO good too! Even the kids will love them.
Note: Although of course it will always, always be best to get your phytonutrients from “whole food” fruits and vegetables and other unrefined plant foods, we really do stand behind phytonutrient “boosters” too because clinical research has shown supplementation with phytonutrients can make a difference.
Find Somewhere Quiet to Enjoy a Nice Glass of Wine
And finally, be sure to find somewhere cool, nice and quiet at the end of each day where you can sit and relax. I personally would recommend having a glass of wine too!
If you read the chapter on wine in our Clean Cuisine book, you won’t feel guilty about the glass of wine either. But if you would like to read a bit of the science behind the health benefits of wine (including how wine does not cause weight gain) be sure to READ HERE.
By the way, the photo above of our wine glasses was taken in the Peacock Room at the Waldorf Astoria, Orlando. Without a doubt, the Waldorf is our very favorite hotel in Orlando. Although not affiliated with any of the theme parks, the Waldorf has a similar price point to the other on-site luxury theme park hotels (such as Universal Studios Hard Rock Hotel, Disney’s Grand Floridian, etc.) However, after staying at one overpriced “luxury” theme-park hotel too many, I can assure you the Waldorf offers the best deal, not to mention the best food too!
Although for decades the Waldorf has been synonymous with celebrated—but not necessarily health-conscious— food, the hotel is now clearly making an attempt to cater to clean eating-enthusiasts by offering a variety of creative and nutritious dining options. Of course you can still order a mayonnaise-laden Waldorf Salad or Veal Oscar Rob Roy, timeless American classics that originated at the flagship Waldorf Astoria in New York City, but there are plenty of healthy options too.
Even though we only ate at the breakfast buffet once, I was delighted to see they offered my Watermelon “Juice” along with a delicious organic millet porridge made with citrus, dried fruit and locally sourced honey.
If you return to your room feeling exhausted at the end of a long day, the 24-hour room service (yet another concept originating from the flagship New York City Waldorf) will deliver a lovely plate of Organic Tofu Stir Fry with Haricot Vert, Carrots, Broccoli, Bok Choy and Brown rice right to your room. And trust me, healthy in-room dining options turn out to be a major perk starting on about day 2.
If you can find an hour or so to totally relax and unwind, the Waldorf also offers a wonderfully serene spa. They have a fitness center and yoga classes too, but to be honest, I am never really up for doing more than a bit of in-room yoga stretches when I go to theme parks.
Click the Waldorf image link below to learn more about their Orlando hotel, or to book a stay.
Where Can You Buy the Foods Recommended in this Article?
Although most well-stocked natural foods stores or Whole Foods Markets will carry the majority of the items I recommended, if you read my most recent article about Vitacost and are wondering if you can buy these items there, the answer is yes! For those of you who missed the article, Vitacost is my new favorite online discount shopping destination for healthy food and wellness items (such as skin care, beauty products, nutrition supplements, etc.) You will find over 40,000 products and savings of up to 50% off retail! And free shipping for orders over $25 by clicking on the coupon below.
Click HERE to read more about what you will find and how you can save money shopping online at Vitacost.
You can buy the Real and Wonderful Crackers, Veggie Krunch, Go Raw Granola, Ito En Green Tea, Barlean’s Greens, Green Vibrance and Amazing Grass Green Superfood all online and for a discount at Vitacost.com ,
Andy and Ivy at Universal Studios Orlando
P.S. Do You Have Any Healthy Eating Tips for Travelers? If So, Please Leave a Comment Below…
If you have any clean eating snack ideas for road trips, wellness tips for travelers or any suggestions for where to eat in Orlando please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!
Wednesday 1st of October 2014
Thanks for your suggestions on healthy snacks. Do you know if whole foods carries any of these products?? I am going away and can't wait for vita cost to ship the products.
Saturday 4th of October 2014
Hi, Whole Foods should have these products, but Vitacost is pretty quick with their shipping. ;)