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-By Darlin Diva  Enjoying WDW Snacks

Isn’t it funny how different children in the same family can have such different eating preferences?  One may eat just about any and everything you set in front of them while another won’t eat much of anything at all.  Ah, the challenges of parenthood!  Picky eaters can be difficult at mealtimes on the best of days – on vacation at Walt Disney World, they can be downright stressful!  Now, I’m not bragging or anything, but one of my children was (and still is) one of the pickiest, most discriminating consumers-of-nearly-nothing I’ve ever known and he’s lived a very healthy life managing to achieve the ripe old age of 18 to-date.  Having vacationed with him a dozen times to Walt Disney World over the years, I’d like to share with you today my top five tips for enjoying Walt Disney World with Picky Eaters:

1. Carry the two H’s:  Healthy snacks and Hydration – these need to be available at all times.  Even if you normally limit between-meal snacks in an effort to make mealtimes more enjoyable with your picky one, there are a number of reasons to lighten up these rules while at Walt Disney World.  For one thing, the weather can be very hot – that heat’s an appetite suppressant!  It also causes dehydration.  Taking an exceptionally relaxed approach to snacking while providing plenty of opportunities to stay hydrated will keep hunger-related meltdowns to a minimum.  Also, if you want to eat somewhere you know your picky eater will not enjoy, go ahead and eat there.  Having some favorite, healthy snacks along means your difficult little diner doesn’t have to control where you eat all the time.

IMG_26512. Take advantage of the least picky meal.  For us that was breakfast – our picky child enjoyed breakfast foods more than other foods and would gladly fill up on scrambled eggs, fruit, Mickey waffles, juice, milk and cereal.  This one good meal may have been the only one of the day with the rest involving very little actual eating.  There are many buffets available throughout Walt Disney World which offer a huge variety of kid-pleasing choices.  We found those to be a better bet for dinner than restaurants with menus – seeing and choosing his own food and having it arranged on the plates to his specifications (nothing can touch!) proved much more successful.  Also, we have yet to find a restaurant that wouldn’t make every effort to help us out with some simple requests like changing or leaving off a sauce, substituting veggies (to ones that might have an actual chance of being eaten) making sure the food is all separated, etc.

3. Fresh Fruit is available at every park.  People asked and Disney listened.  Parents want more snack options available for purchase than just frozen treats, candy and soft drinks.  Healthy options abound now and are available all over the place.  Details are available in this Disney Parks Blog article.

4. Distractions are unavoidable.  Don’t fight it.  Picky eaters will use any and every excuse imaginable to avoid eating.  Character meals will feel like a huge waste of money WDW Dining at Fulton'swhen not one bite is eaten – take the mindset that you are paying for the experience of seeing your favorite Disney Characters in the comfort of an air conditioned dining room without having to wait in a long line (or in the heat of the parks).  Don’t focus on the food – know ahead of time that the excitement and joy of getting personal attention from Mickey, Minnie, or a favorite Princess will be at the expense of a satisfied belly.  Have those snacks from Tip #1 ready when you hear “I’m hungry!” 30 minutes after you leave your character meal.  Following this one tip will minimize frustration and keep those magical Disney moments happy ones.

5. Don’t Stress!  Heat, excitement, crowds, characters, unfamiliar surroundings, sleep deprivation – all take a toll on every member of the family.  Decide before you go not to let the most discerning eater among you cause you to miss out on a dining experience you want to enjoy.  Here’s something that helped me a lot over the years:  When C. Everett Coop, MD was the U.S. Surgeon General, I saw him on TV answering questions about child nutrition.  A parent asked him for suggestions on how to make a picky eater eat and the answer was a game changer for me:  Don’t make them eat!  Dr. Coop suggested giving the child a multivitamin and a glass of orange juice and stop worrying about it!  Maybe vacation should include less bargaining, bribing, and begging where food is concerned.  I’m not suggesting allowing too many sweets or soft drinks, I’m just saying that a trip to Walt Disney World doesn’t have to involve mealtime conflicts – you can go right back to all that as soon as you get home.

Until next time…Darlin’ Diva