7/11/17

How to Eat Healthy at an Amusement Park

Theme Park Tips
Theme Park Tips
Theme Park Tips
While amusement parks and theme parks deliver the thrills of excitement and adventure, they can be challenging for a family like ours who focuses on a lifestyle of clean eating. And unfortunately, for our family, splurging in moderation is not an option since we are using diet to treat our son's Crohn's disease. This summer we decided to stay local and embrace what Ohio has to offer, and any Ohioan knows that Cedar Point is a must. This particular trip was slightly out of our comfort zone, especially when it comes to the food department. If you've been following along for awhile, then you know that food plays a huge role in our travels and vacations. Just take a look at our trip to Friday Harbor last year and you'll see what I mean.

Unfortunately, most amusement parks have very little to offer when it comes to healthy food choices. Sugar-filled treats, preservatives, fried foods, high-calorie meals and processed drinks seem to be lurking around every corner. While it seems almost impossible to eat healthy at a theme park, it is not impossible. It may take a little work on your end, but it is well worth it to stay on track.

EAT BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
We try to enter to park as soon as it opens so we can make sure we're out of there well before dinner. Before arrival, I made sure we ate a large, healthy meal to fill our bellies and fuel us for the day. Be sure to include a protein, a healthy fat and plenty of fruits and veggies. Make sure you do a little research. Some parks will allow you to bring a cooler and leave it outside the park in a designated area with picnic benches. If this is a possibility, I highly recommend planning out your meals and taking advantage of this opportunity. You'll be able to stick with your healthy eating, save on money, and take a break from the park.

BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS
Bringing your own snacks is absolutely essential, especially if you follow a strict diet like the SCD diet. Since you'll be running around from ride to ride, you'll be burning off energy that will need to be replaced. Homemade snack bars, cubed cheese, fruit strips, meat sticks, packaged olives and and nuts all make good options. While some of the following snacks are not technically SCD complaint (because there is no letter from the company) we have found that our son can tolerate them in moderation. Packing Larabars, Epic bars, just fruit bars and apple or beet chips can cut down on the packing time and preparation time for homemade snacks. It's very important to remember, that even if you can tolerate these packaged foods you should only eat them in moderation.

DRINK WATER
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I can't say this enough. Did you know your brain is made up of about 75 percent water? Drinking water will actually help you think, focus and concentrate better and it will boost your energy levels. When fatigue hits, there is a chance that you are showing signs of dehydration. Water helps to flush the toxins out of your system and plays a key role in overall body function.

SEEK OUT FRUITS & VEGGIES
As mentioned above, you should have plenty of snacks with you, but if you need to purchase a snack seek out freshly cut fruit and vegetables. Often you will be able to find a container of fruit or a side of carrots and celery. In order to stick with your clean eating, omit any sauces provided for the vegetables because they will contain sugar, preservatives and most likely starches.

While smoothies always sound like a healthy choice, I highly recommend avoiding smoothies in theme parks, malls and restaurants. The terms natural, made with fresh fruit and preservative-free are EXTREMELY misleading. These smoothies are often times made from a pre-made frozen concentrate that contains sugar, natural flavors, cellulose gum, dyes, and maltodextrin. These drinks that are being sold as "healthy" are in fact the complete opposite and offer little to no health benefits and can wreck havoc on your gut micro-biome.

FIND THE HEALTHIEST OPTIONS
There is bound to be a time when you don't have a choice and must eat out while visiting a theme park. For obvious reasons, steer clear of the classic stands that carry cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pizza and French fries. Try and find a sit down restaurant and don't hesitate from starting an open dialogue with your server and manager about your dietary requirements. Choose simple, customized meals and avoid all sauces and dressings. A salad is a good choice but try and avoid cheese (unless you know it's an aged cheese and not processed) and ask for olive oil, vinegar and lemons to use as a dressing. If you order a steak, make sure it is only cooked in butter or olive oil and avoid spices with the exception of salt and pepper. We avoid chicken in restaurants, unless we know that it is a quality product. Chicken is often injected with water, salt and other additives and preservatives to help it stay juicier and more flavorful, therefore making it a questionable choice. This is the same reason why we avoid pork. Grilled fish with a side of steamed veggies is always a decent option as well.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS
Probably the most important step you can take is talking to your kids. Explain to them why you choose the lifestyle of clean eating and healthy living. It's very important that you focus on healthy eating and physical exercise rather than weight. Clean eating is not just another diet. Rather, it is a lifestyle that focuses on overall body and mind health. By promoting a healthy lifestyle, hopefully your children will learn to understand why certain foods like sugars, preservatives and so forth are bad for the body and how they negatively impact the gut flora. And don't forget, children learn by their parents example. If you lead a healthy and active life then chances are your decisions will trickle down to your children and they will follow in your footsteps.

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