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The Magic is Inside US!
If you will soon be heading out on your Griswold Summer Vacation to Wally World or Disney World, we have suggestions for keeping it real, finding pouch friendly foods and not straying too far off path. The biggest hurdle is to think like slim people do – studies show they consume similar foods and calorie counts day in and day out no matter where they are or what the occasion. It’s the obese folk who look at vacation as a food free for all and justification for quadruple calories. Belly busting food does not make for better memories. When faced with food choices, remember why you needed bariatric intervention and ‘Let it Go!’
Band on the Run
Our partner on this theme park journey is Suzi Shaw, a BE Team Moderator for our amazing BariatricEating Support Group on Facebook. After fighting her weight all her life, Suzi had Lap Band surgery in 2006 and did well at first, but then her band both eroded then slipped and she gained back all weight lost. By 2013 things had gone from bad to worse when her port flipped and she’d wake up chocking from reflux and her band could not be adjusted. She faced surgery for removal and converted to gastric bypass. With an opportunity for a second chance, Suzi followed plan to the letter and lost her one hundred pound regain and beyond in a short 10 months. While her band had failed, she knew she’d also failed by not respecting the surgery and not changing food choices. This time, Suzi is now one of the most devoted followers of healthy balanced bariatric eating you’ll find.
It’s a Small World
With her Navy husband deployed on the other side of the world, Suzi planned some Mommy-Daughter time to distract them both. Disney seemed like an easy place to escape the stress of every-day life and missing Daddy. The trip was a magical week where they enjoyed big hugs and smiles while Suzi gained even greater confidence in her Bariatric Eating Lifestyle. This vacation was a personal challenge to have fun with her daughter while sticking to her new way of eating. After all, she isn’t on a diet with an end… this is her new life with food!
Suzi’s drive in overcoming her lap band disaster and turning around her life can be summed up by Walt Disney himself…
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney
My Bariatric Friendly Summer Vacation at Disney World – Suzi Shaw
Protein Prep Work!
On my bariatric eating plan I often use protein drinks in place of small meals as I can’t always eat enough food and needed to plan in case I could only find carb heavy choices in the park. I did not want to be light headed or have a blood sugar drop while with my three year old. I knew that planning would be essential. I cleaned some empty bottles, added a scoop of my favorite Inspire protein powder and marked each bottle for the right amount of water I liked. This was perfect as I hate carrying around stuff. Once done with my protein drink I could toss it in the trash. This plan works at any theme park, the beach, the lake, or grandma’s house.
Goofy, Chief of Security
Here’s a word of caution though, Disney doesn’t allow glass containers in the parks and they do bag checks. I took one every day into the park in my tote bag and they did not notice. Not sure what that says about Disney’s security team, but it worked for me. This method is a good one but after the first day, I brought an empty shaker in case I had to transfer my protein. I didn’t mind tossing it as it wasn’t my only shaker and I had plenty at the hotel. Next trip will be plastic bottles! In the park the bottles were filled either from a cold water fountain or the bottle/cup of water. Which brings me to a good Disney Tip…
At Disney parks the WATER is FREE. True story. If you go to any Quick Service (the fast food places) and the snack bars (but not the carts) and ask, they will give you a cup of ice water. It’s not a large ice water (they’ll charge for that) but you can get a free eight ounce cup that’s a perfect top off. Use this to your advantage to keep dehydration away! Nothing ruins fun faster than a headache from a lack of water.
In addition, water is sold in bottles everywhere you turn. While you can bring in a small backpack or tote bag with your own bottles of water, either frozen or warm, I DON’T do this. I know it’s a lot of money, but I don’t like drinking hot water and I’m not bringing a cooler with me. So I budget for cold water bottles and use the freebie small cups to stay hydrated. It is critical for my health and that of my daughter.
Be our Guest…
Here are ‘the ropes’ along with some of our favorite BE approved bariatric friendly Disney meals!
Sorry, but NO to the DOLE
Disney caters to those with special dietary concerns or issues. When you make a reservation for a table service restaurant they will ask if anyone in the party has issues that they need to watch out for. When you arrive a Chef will come talk to you about what’s on the menu and if nothing works they will MAKE you something that does. They’ll literally walk you around a buffet and point out things to show you what will work and what won’t. You just have to ask.
At the snack carts and quick service places, nutrition stats are readily available. I asked about a classic Disney treat, a Dole Whip. The cast member at the cart knew the exact breakdown, including calories carbs and sugar. While this popular treat if fairly low in calories the natural sugar from pineapple juice would be enough to end my day with a sugar coma – so, no go! Asking questions at Disney is smart as ‘cast members’ are trained to help, not just hand you the food! She recommended I have a no sugar mango gelato at Pinnocchio’s Village Haus.
It’s not the Food, it’s the Feeling!
One of the most important parts of Disney theme parks are the stories that each ride and area tells and that amount of detail extends into its restaurants. You’re paying as much to be entertained as you are to eat so that’s something that important to remember. Take it all in! Having your food handled removes a lot of stress.
From Kona Café at the Polynesian resort.
Don’t discount eating at a Disney hotel. Usually it’s less crowded, more relaxing and better food. For this meal I ordered two small plates: Beef Tataki – thinly sliced barely seared beef that was melt in my mouth delicious. And Crab Cakes – bariatric perfect, without bread filler. So Good. I sipped an unsweetened iced tea before my meal and my daughter got a free kids meal for a total under $30.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, breakfast.
This is a character meal, which means that while you eat the Disney characters come around to your table and visit with you. This one takes place in EPCOT center, in the World Showcase at the Norway pavilion. The characters this day were Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Ariel. Which to any girl, little or big, make up the Big Five and worth cost of meal for admission alone!
Character breakfasts are popular because they are much cheaper than the same restaurant for dinner. This particular one is the best because the only other option to get these characters together is in Cinderella’s castle, where the prices are double and reservations are near impossible at even a year in advance.
The meals at Akershus start with a cold buffet. My first plate above has the good options. Lox, capers, and Norwegian cheeses. There were also sugar free pastries (no sugar but still lots of carbs) and a yogurt bar. The second is what they brought to the table. It’s family style so they bring a big dish of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and a cheesy hash brown dish. Mickey shaped waffles, regular or no sugar, are available upon request. I skipped the bacon because it was not crisp enough to work for me. I skipped the eggs and went back to fill up on smoked salmon, which is just so post op friendly! Cost for this meal, an adult and a child was $60 before tip.
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
Remember when I said the experience was part of the dining at Disney? Well, here’s a photo from this character breakfast. The look on my daughter’s face is Priceless! It makes my heart smile and I cant wait until her Daddy can share this with us. She is the reason that I had weight loss surgery!
The most important meal of the day!
Breakfast at my hotel. I didn’t stay in a Disney owned hotel but I did stay on Disney property. The hotel, like most in the world, has a breakfast buffet with an omelet bar. Egg white omelet with ham, spinach tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese. Strawberry on the side so my plate did not look quite as empty. Cost for this was $12, my daughter ate free.
Pinocchio Village Haus, dinner.
I had a Mediterranean salad that had chicken, banana peppers, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, eggs and cheese. It was a super nice salad. This restaurant also has no sugar added mango sorbet that was refreshing and hit the spot since a Dole Whip was out of the question. Cost for this and a kids meal was $18 (Kids meals at Disney quick service come with an entrée, side and a drink).
Captain Cooks, dinner
Lobster roll! I just scooped it out of the roll and threw that part away. This is another fast food place so I didn’t bother with special requests but they are really accommodating. My daughter got some Lo Mein noodles and it came with a side of carrots and grapes that we shared. This was REAL lobster and the portion was just over a cup so lots of food.
Cost for both meals, $26. Lobster isn’t cheap anywhere.
Sanaa, Animal Kingdom Lodge, lunch.
This was an amazing meal! This is another Disney hotel place, it’s at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the theming inside is really cool. But the view is the awesome thing. It sits on the “Savanna” which houses multiple kinds of animals. Eating while watching zebra and giraffes frolicking around was really neat. The photo below was our actual view while we ate. It’s an African/Indian style place and we had two curry’s, one with paneer and one with seafood that we loved!
Every Disney park and hotel has a Starbucks now. Same menu, same options, same prices. Awesome! This is a Skinny Caramel Macchiato. It’s not what I get at home, as I go too often for this sort of thing to be a regular drink, but it’s my once in a while treat. One of these while my daughter took a stroller nap and I wandered around just soaking in the atmosphere made for a great couple of hours one afternoon.
Remember to take in every moment. My life after weight loss surgery is a gift. Remember why you had surgery… are tortillas, rice, bread and cake worth fighting to keep in your life? No. Life is why we have this surgery. Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by every moment that takes your breath away.