Who doesn’t love to go to theme parks and amusement parks every now and then? Sure, you may have to wait 50 minutes for a 2 minute “joy” ride (if you count getting your heart tossed up to your throat being flipped upside down at insane speeds a joy), but those 2 minutes are sometimes worth it. Yet waiting in lines also means you (and your kids, if you’re brave enough to bring them with you) are going to H-U-N-G-R-Y.
So in a playland filled with stands of deep fried everything and sausage hoagies and cotton candy, how can you ensure that you and your kids eat healthily while still having fun?
Check the park rules for bringing your own food.
Check the website or call first to see what you can bring in. For example, Disney allows folks to bring backpacks with their own food and water. Ask about exceptions to any rules – for example, if someone in your family has a food allergy, ask about those options in the park or if you can bring your own food that would meet your needs. No park wants to be liable for patrons who have allergic reactions while screaming down a roller coaster.
Bring lightweight water bottles
If you can bring your own water, keep in mind that you also have to carry them all day. And water bottles can start feeling like bowling balls by mid-day. Bring a lightweight or collapsible water bottle that you can refill throughout the day – ask where the water fountains are. This will keep you and your family hydrated, as well as help you avoid the soda lines and the $5 bottles of water.
Pack granola bars and nuts
Grab some Ziploc bags and add your own mix of nuts and granola – these are healthier sources of protein and energy that will sustain hunger pains when you’re waiting in line to hear “It’s a Small World” for the 10th time. They are also fairly lightweight and pack small. Snacking on healthier options throughout the day will also help sustain your energy so you don’t overdo it at the stand with the deep fried pizza.
Carry fruit leathers and strips
What kid (or adult) doesn’t like a sweet every now and then? It’s tough to carry fruit around all day without it either getting smushed (no one wants squishy grapes) or being too heavy (an apple sounds great, but try carrying around five while trying to ride the bumper cars). Fruit leathers are a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth while being minimal to pack.
Embrace small indulgences
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you give in and buy a treat for yourself or your kids. Assuming you don’t go to theme parks every day, an indulgence is more than OK. Set limits for your kids ahead of time (i.e. a treat of their choosing after 3pm). Try and go for the less offensive options (i.e. chocolate-covered banana versus deep fried doughnut). Most theme parks now also offer healthier and delicious meals (i.e. grilled portobello burger versus double cheeseburger), so you can still indulge in flavor without totally sacrificing health.