Those of us who like to count calories and watch what we eat know how difficult it is to do so. If you’re like me, there is no day that goes by without some sort of temptation to wander off course. But as if maintaining a healthy diet on a daily basis isn’t already a tough enough task, imagine how hard it is to try and do it while on vacation. Though it’s true we should allow ourselves to live a little, especially while on vacation, it doesn’t mean we can’t do so while still staying on track with our normal diet.
I’m a huge fan of Disneyland and every year my girlfriend and I vacation there 4-5 times, for at least a 3 day period and sometimes even longer. A 3 day stay at Disneyland isn’t too damaging to my normal diet, but any longer than that can make it hard for me to avoid all temptations to indulge in the foods I love. On one of my trips to the Happiest Place on Earth last year, my girlfriend and I discovered a way to not only maintain our weight, but even lose a few pounds. We went to Disneyland for 5 days and when we got home, we were amazed to discover that we had lost 3 lbs each.
So how did we do it? Well, the 2 major contributing factors were a lot of walking and the mixing in of some healthy meals to go along with the junk food we ate. Duh, that’s kind of common sense right? Of course. We didn’t discover some incredible new way to lose weight. We just learned how to apply this common sense to our life on vacation.
The first step in this process was to book a hotel that was close enough for us to walk to Disneyland, yet not so far away that the walk would be difficult. This is something I would only recommend for those who are in good health and are in shape enough to do so without hurting themselves. My girlfriend and I booked a hotel about a mile away from the Entrance Plaza to both Disneyland and California Adventure. We dislike driving to Disneyland, having to park in one of the lots or garages, and having to take the shuttles over to the parks. The parking situation itself isn’t bad, but we find the process of being herded into the shuttles like sheep to be an annoying waste of time, so when we can, we choose to walk to Disneyland. It doesn’t hurt that when we walk, we also save a bunch of money on parking.
During our 5 day stay at Disneyland, we walked to the parks and back to the hotel everyday. This trip was towards the end of the spring season when the parks began extending their hours on weekdays as well as weekends, so everyday we were at the park for a good 10 hours. Because of these long hours and the distance between our hotel and the theme parks, our exercise for each of those days consisted of: 1) the initial walk to the Entrance Plaza, 2) lots of standing around while waiting in the lines, 3) lots of walking around the parks and back and forth between the parks, and 4) the long walk back to the hotel at the end of the day.
The second step in the process of applying common sense to our vacation was to find other eating options outside of Disneyland that were healthier than what was available inside. While we enjoy some of the food available inside the theme parks, especially all the special treats only available there, we found some better options outside. For us the better food options were at the Anaheim Garden Walk, a new mall that is a few blocks away from Disneyland, located off of Harbor Blvd between Katella Ave and Disney Way. We were lucky enough that the mall happened to be conveniently located on the way from our hotel to the Entrance Plaza.
Over the 5 day period that we were at Disneyland, we stopped to eat at this mall at least once a day, either on our way to the park or on our way back to the hotel. There is a food court there with options like a Subway type sandwich shop, Sbarro’s Pizza, and Hawaiian food to go along with many restaurants, such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, California Pizza Kitchen, and P.F. Chang’s. So instead of having to choose between pizza, burgers, hot dogs, or other such foods typically offered inside the parks, we were able to get Japanese food or a sandwich at the mall. Our favorite meals were at a casual dining Japanese restaurant where we were able to eat some simple rice dishes, salads, and sushi. Not only were we able to eat a little better, eating outside also gave us the advantage of avoiding the large crowds inside the parks and at times even saved us a little money.
In the end, we didn’t totally avoid eating junk food, but we were able to limit how much junk we ate. We had meals here and there where we indulged ourselves in pizza or burgers and snacked on pretzels, ice cream, frozen lemonade, and churros everyday, but were able to balance them out by also eating these healthier meals. By mixing in healthier foods and getting in extra exercise by walking to and from the parks everyday, we were able to maintain our normal diets while also allowing ourselves to enjoy some of the perks of vacationing at Disneyland.
This doesn’t have to just apply to Disneyland. Wherever it may be, it’s okay to go on vacation and allow yourself to eat whatever you want to eat, because hey, if you can’t enjoy the little things in life that make you happy when you’re on vacation, when can you? Yet at the same time, if you want to find a way to indulge a little while still maintaining your normal healthy habits, then there are ways to do it. Whatever your destination may be, just do a little research and you should be able to find a way to get in your exercise and eat better just like my girlfriend and I did at Disneyland. I hope I have been able to help a little by sharing my own experience. Good luck to you on your future vacations!