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Balanced Diet: Six Healthy Alternatives to Theme Park Food

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Healthy Eating—Once again, it's summer time once again and everyone's gearing up for another season filled with fun. This time of the year promises so much adventure, and it becomes doubly fun when spent with the whole family. One great idea of spending summer with kids is to head to theme parks where you have an endless list of activities to choose from.

But there's one caveat to spending a week hopping from one theme park to another: it's the food. Sure, theme park foods add fun to your vacation, but they do a lot of damage when it comes to your diet, not to mention your purse. Cotton candies, hot dogs on sticks, popcorns and fries – these are my personal childhood favorites. Unfortunately, they can also be heart stoppers, and by that I mean they're the artery-clogging type.

Healthy Theme Park Choices to Avoid a Diet Disaster

Determined not to lose in my battle with weight this summer vacation, I've come up with a list of healthy alternatives to theme park food eating. Though they may require some effort to do, your waist line (and your wallet) will definitely thank you in the end.

Choose fruit slices over sweets.

Sweets are everywhere in theme parks, whether it may be in Disney World or Universal Studios. And being theme park staples, I don't think concessions selling these sinful delights would be closing down anytime soon. Chocolate marshmallow fudge with nuts and funnel cake with powdered sugar sound tempting right about now, but they're packed with calories, fat and sugar. If you get cravings for sweets (and I know you do), check out the fruit stands on theme parks so that you can still have your sugary fill without necessarily going overboard. Amusement parks now have fruit carts virtually everywhere. They have fruits in season and even celery and carrot sticks for snacking.

Bring your own reusable water bottle.

Sodas are very popular with kids and even with adults. They're packed with sugar which gives you a burst of energy but only for a short while. However, sodas are pretty expensive when you buy them from theme park concession stands, and they're dehydrating too. A very good alternative is to bring your own reusable water bottle which you can refill at water fountains in theme parks. If you don't like lugging your own water bottle, you can simply buy chilled ones at the park but they cost the same as sodas.

Pack your own lunch.

Though you can always head to the nearest restaurant at the park, chances are, the food would be too expensive for the whole family or the restaurant's simply hard to get into. Since lockers are available near entrances of parks, you can bring a small cooler filled with snacks or even full course meals. When you get tired from all the walking, bring out your cooler and have a picnic inside the park. This is going to help slash off a big portion out of your eating expenses.

Share a meal with a family member or friend.

Theme park restaurants are not only notorious for their expensive meals. They're also infamous for their huge meal portions. Divide an entrée or main course with someone else so that you won't be tempted in finishing the whole portion. This way, you also get to save bucks by cutting down meal expenses in half. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone.

Go vegan for a change.

Vegetables are probably not the most enticing foods for kids, but you can always entice them to a veggie burger or salad at the park. Blue Bayou happens to have a very wide selection of vegetarian food and other healthy meals. The meals are rather pricey but the foods are excellent. If you're only up for a snack, check out the veggie skewers at Bengal BBQ. You can also check out Mexican Grills for healthy and tasty veggie salads and burritos. But stay away from nachos with cheese, which contains about 1,000 calories.

Carry your own trail mix.

Power bars are not only great when you're running. They're also perfect when you're walking nonstop in theme parks. Stash healthy bars in your purse or satchel so that you can always take a bite whenever you feel hunger pangs strike. Carrying these will also help you cut down on unnecessary food expenses during your vacation.

Being on vacation at theme parks with the whole family does not mean you have to forego your diet. With a little bit of planning and a lot of resourcefulness, you can enjoy your vacation without sacrificing healthy eating.

How do you maintain a healthy eating lifestyle while on vacation with the family?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Renee Bedford is a mom and wife who believes in teaching her children to be self-reliant and prepared. She knows that not only will these skills keep them safer, but they will also make them smarter! Besides being a committed mother, she also works for Christmas Tree Market, an online Christmas tree shop.

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