Eat Healthfully at Disneyland…and still enjoy your meals
Going to Disneyland is a celebration for all senses, taste included! In addition to the top-notch attractions and entertainment, there are also countless unique and delicious meals and treats only to be found within the Disney Parks. But what if you’re aiming to eat more healthfully and a giant turkey leg or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick aren’t a part of your diet? No worries, there are lots of great dining and snack choices throughout the Disneyland Park that will keep you on track! You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself.
Most important meal of the day, right? Consider eating breakfast before you come to the Park. The smell of frappachinos, buttery pastries and vanilla-scented Mickey waffles will be wafting through the air from the Starbucks and Jolly Holiday Bakery as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A!
I usually bring food to store in the hotel fridge and fill up at daybreak with Greek yogurt, a banana and fibrous flake cereal. My kids usually enjoy granola bars and fresh fruit.
- I also suggest dining in the Downtown Disney District before the Parks open. We’ve picked up filling and delicious egg sandwiches and omelettes at Earl of Sandwich and the prices are extremely reasonable. Jamba Juice can make a delicious smoothie (choose the low-sugar option).
- If you want to dine inside the Park, River Belle Terrace has a plate of fresh, seasonal fruit (skip the Biscuits n’ Gravy!)
- Order the fruit platter at Flo’s V8 Cafe and you’ll also receive an oat bran muffin and low fat yogurt.
- If you choose something healthy like the Spinach and Tomato Egg White Fritatta from Carnation Cafe, request that heavy toppings (like sour cream or fried potatoes) be served on the side so you can control the portion size or share them with someone else in your group.
There are snack carts placed all over the Parks so be prepared when that heavenly popcorn or cinnamon-scent of churros hits you! You can always bring in your own snacks to the Park and packing cut veggies or melon is a great way to eat healthy on your trip.
- Some carts (like Tropical Imports, Fillmore’s Taste-In and Fairfax Market) also offer fresh fruits, like bananas, apples, grapes, mangoes and pineapple spears. They even have veggies and hummus.
- Need a little something heartier? Swing wide of the corn dog cart and pick up an Outback Vegetable or Banyan Beef Skewer from Bengal Barbecue. Dipping sauces can contain lots of sugar so it’s best to skip.
- Craving something sweeter? The Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar is light and refreshing with pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice.
- You can get vanilla ice cream with no sugar added at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. No sugar added butter pecan is available at Clarabelle’s & Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Have it served in a cup instead of a sugar cone.
- A frozen banana is also a decent choice as it’s lightly coated in chocolate and nuts. It will also take a little longer to eat since it’s frozen so you won’t devour it as quickly.
Consider having a filling breakfast and a hearty snack and you might be able to stave off a big lunch and just have dinner instead. Or make one of these healthy lunch choices.
Salads can be a great idea for lunch and there are lots of salads available at the Disneyland Resort. If you’re watching calories, ask them not to add cheese. Avoid salads served in a tostada shell and always request dressing on the side. Italian or oil and vinegar are going to be lighter than creamy dressings like Ranch or blue-cheese.
- The Picnic Salad at the Hungry Bear is a nice mix, including turkey breast, strawberries and Feta cheese.
- The Crescent City Salad at Cafe Orleans comes with either blackened chicken or Atlantic salmon (just ask for it without the caramelized pecans).
- The River Belle Terrace offers Becky Thatcher’s Vegetarian Chopped Salad that includes hearty and filling proteins like hard-boiled egg, garbanzo & black beans.
- For other options, The Troubadour Tavern offers a baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce. Just ask for the cheese on the side so you can control the portion or eliminate all together.
- Village Haus and Smokejumpers Grill have a Garden Veggie Burger (hold the cheese).
- Tomorrowland Terrace offers a chicken breast sandwich with fresh veggie toppings and avocado salsa. Choose the fruit side over fries.
If you’re eating healthy, you already know to avoid sugar-laden sodas. Alcoholic drinks are served at Disney California Adventure Park and Guests can indulge in frozen margaritas and beer on tap in the Paradise Pier area, specialty drinks at the Cove Bar and wine at Wine Country Trattoria. Keep in mind that alcohol contains additional calories so if you’re trying to be healthy, don’t drink your calories…save them for food!
You can bring in bottles of water with you into the Parks to re-hydrate throughout the day. You can also request free ice water from any counter service restaurant. Snack carts offer a variety of waters, including coconut water.
Dinner is a great time to consider sharing a platter of food. Even if the dish is more indulgent, it’s not quite as bad if you share between 2 or 3.
- The Citrus-fired grilled chicken platter at Rancho del Zocalo is large and delicious (ask if they can sub black beans for the refried).
- The oven-roasted chicken platter at French Market Restaurant is another favorite to share.
- Platters at Plaza Inn are enormous. We buy two plates of fried chicken and share between the five of us. With the sides of mashed potatoes & green beans, we all have enough to eat (and if you’re really watching the calories, you can always remove the skin from the chicken and request no gravy on the potatoes).
- You can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean skewers at the Paradise Garden Grill. The grilled meat and veggie/tofu skewers are served with rice pilaf and cucumber salad, making them a light and refreshing meal (skip the baklava though!)
- At Tomorrowland Terrace, choose a portobello sandwich with loads of veggies. Ask for cheese and aioli on the side and fruit instead of fries.
- The soups at Pacific Wharf Cafe are so delicious, but opt for broth-based rather than cream. And try to minimize the nibble to the sourdough bread bowl!
- At Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta you can order a single slice of pizza. Both locations offer a version that skips the fatty meats and tops your slice with seasonal veggies. Round out your meal with a small side salad.
- Carnation Cafe offers the Chef’s Vegan Burger made of beans & veggies and served with lots of fresh vegetable toppings on a multigrain roll.
- The Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamonga is large and filling.
Tips to keep in mind when ordering
As a rule when ordering, avoid anything that is fried, battered, smothered, candied or has a creamy sauce. Look for grilled meats and veggies served without sauces.
Don’t be afraid to request a substitution. You can swap fruit instead of fries at counter service restaurants. When ordering at full-service restaurants, ask the Cast Member to put toppings on the side so you can control how much you want to add or leave off. If there is any question about the dish, ask them how it is prepared so you’ll know before it’s in front of you. If you have special dietary requests or food allergies, read this section from the Disneyland website and know that you can speak directly to the restaurant staff or chef with your concerns.
If calorie-counting, it’s best to skip the buffets. Unfortunately this eliminates most Character dining experiences, except for Ariel’s Grotto. You can dine with the Princesses and still order a healthy choice off the menu for either breakfast or lunch!
Kids can eat healthy at Disneyland too! When choosing kid’s meals, simply look for the Mickey Check. Mickey Check meals meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines as a complete meals. Some Mickey Check kid’s meals are also vegetarian.
Just one bite. If you and your family would love to indulge in something fun or decadent, buy a corn dog. Treat yourself to a caramel-covered apple. Get that frozen treat or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick. And then share it between all of you. Everyone gets a few bites and you all can enjoy the treat!
What are your favorite healthy dining dishes at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments!
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