Disney World Food Tip #8: Avoid Eating Too Much Sugar

stay healthy on a Disney vacation

Updated for 2016!

My son and I have a little verbal game we play on walks when we are not visiting Disney parks. You know on those mundane days when we are surviving non-Disney reality, because somebody has to walk the dog in reality-ville. He likes to ask me, “What snack would you eat at Disney World right now?” I answer based on how long ago I ate a meal and which resort or park I can re-call to mind first. He always starts off with that same question, “What snack would you eat at Disney right now?” He doesn’t ask that repeatedly because he lacks imagination, but rather he asks because snacks occupy a HUGE part of our Orlando trips.

Ask anybody…Disney snacks and goodies are the stuff vacation legends are made of.

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sharing snacks at Disney World

I remember like it was yesterday. Several years ago, our children all went to the video arcade at the Contemporary Resort, leaving me and my husband to explore without kids. We wound up at the Contempo Cafe, so I could watch the monorails zip through the building. I bought a Black Forrest cupcake, and knowing my children wouldn’t be around to beg, I proceeded to eat the entire thing. That cupcake was as big as my fist; pretty soon after finishing it, I felt sick as a dog. And what should have been a lovely adult-quiet-time snack turned into an all too common occurrence on vacations. I had a sugar crash.

Wait, wait. I thought sugar was supposed to make you feel good?

Livestrong.com explains that eating sugar gives you an instant surge of energy, but this doesn’t last very long. Your blood sugar will surge to respond to the sugary snack you just ingested, your metabolism will burn through it, and then your “system crashes.” Now you wind up feeling sluggish and tired. You could feel yucky after eating too much sugar because your fullness sensors become impaired. When this happens, you may wind up eating more food or snacks than your body needs, and again, you feel uncomfortably full and sluggish.

I now call this phenomena “cupcake crash.” 

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cupcakes at Walt Disney World

I don’t eat sugary treats on vacation for energy; I eat them because, for the most part, they just simply taste amazing!  Assuming these snacks and desserts are sometimes about equal to what I can purchase at home in terms of quality, home food 100% of the time remains unmatched by Disney atmosphere and theming. I swear that cupcake truly tastes better than the average home-made cupcake when eaten outside by the pool at Coronado Springs. A Goofy’s Glacier icee is definitely better than the absolute best Slurpeee I ever slurped, because it was consumed outside the Word of Disney Store, Tinker Bell lights twinkling in the trees, Disney music piped in from the bushes. A hot fudge sundae during Wishes? Man, oh man…

Any of those treats seriously trumps a Zinger eaten at my back yard table any day.

The key to vacation snacking dining success is to examine the type of sugars you are consuming.

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caramel apples snacks at Disney World

Bodybuilding.com explains there are two types of sugars, simple sugar and complex sugars.

Simple Sugars

Simple sugars are those that can get absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly. They are sometimes called “fast sugars,” and foods containing these types of sugars are high on the glycemic index. This sugar can be sucrose, glucose, maltose, fructose, or different types of natural sugar.

Simple sugars can be disguised as jams, sweets, cakes, pastries, soft drinks, chocolates, biscuits, ice creams etc. They can also be found in mass quantities at the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Confectionary. I can just imagine the sweets counter now, with a Cast Member asking what I need today…

Complex Sugars

Complex sugars are those that release sugar slowly into the blood, thus they are referred to as “slow sugars.” Foods containing complex carbohydrates are generally low on the glycemic index. Fairly common examples of these foods are apples, peanuts, strawberries, lentils, green vegetables and mushrooms.

Low glycemic foods release sugar into the blood in quantities that the body can cope with without having to release high levels of insulin. Also these foods provide the body with nutrients it needs to burn sugar effectively.

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best snacks at Walt Disney World

Eating more of the slow sugars (complex) and less of the fast sugars (simple) ensure your energy levels stay constantly ramped up. When there is no huge sugar crash, this usually means you are less likely to crave another instant sugar hit.

So what are you to do, surrounded by all those delectable treats and desserts? Because like Mickey t-shirts and key chains, there are desserts, ice creams, and pastries everywhere you turn. If you don’t see them, chances are you can smell them as you walk down the sidewalks. And darling, they smell fantastic!

Try to eat more fruits and vegetables than sweets while you are at Disney World. That’s a simple concept that most of us learned in high school health class, but it’s easier to say than actually to do on vacation. You can bring healthy snacks with you or spend more for them on property.

And yet sometimes you will just need to give in to that yummy Disney treat-temptation.

Go buy that cupcake, purchase that Glacier drink, order that chocolate pie with a Dole Whip on the side. But then in true Cheapskate Princess style, you are going to share it.

Grab a knife ands split it in half, fourths even if you are traveling with a larger party. Divide it up, and have a “snack sample.” I tell my children all the time that a Disney snack isn’t meant to be a meal, it’s a sample. And some of those Disney muffins, pastries, fritters, cakes, pies, ice cream bars, and frozen drinks have enough substance to make you as full as if you had just consumed a meal.

Your vacation problem arrives when you overindulge on sweets, because a “cupcake crash” can be right around the corner.

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Mickey Mouse cake pop at Disney World

Buy three snacks, cut them up, and make your own dessert sampler. Just get a taste, and your body will thank you later. Trust me, your kids will LOVE this idea if you present it the right way. Hey kids, you get to try more desserts with the Cheapskate Sharing Plan, just in smaller amounts. You get what you pay for at Disney World, and sometimes it’s more about quality than quantity.

Ok, maybe they won’t thank you immediately, but you’ll be glad their little stomachs aren’t aching after consuming a cupcake built for four.

If you ever divided a cupcake into four parts because another snack time is only several hours away, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you with a knife in hand, explaining to the kids the differences between a snack and a meal.

how to save money on food at Disney parks

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