In December of 2021, I received a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes while I was on my way to Disney World. My doctor's nurse called me to let me know that the results of my routine bloodwork from my yearly physical were consistent with Type 2 Diabetes and that I needed to plan to come into the office as soon as possible to speak with my doctor about how to manage my glucose levels. Needless to say, this is not the best news to receive on your way to a magical Disney vacation. Not only was I shaken by the gravity of the fact that I have a chronic condition I will have to manage for the rest of my life, but I was also worried about what on Earth I was going to be able to find to eat in the theme parks! After all, Disney World is known for having its fair share of sugary, starchy treats. As we made our way towards the parks, I put in an Instacart order for a glucose monitor from the local CVS and decided that I was going to do my best to eat a low starch, low sugar diet while on vacation. I figured if I was able to manage my Diabetes at Disney World, then I should be able to manage it anywhere...right?
So, how did I manage a brand new Diabetes diagnosis at Disney World? I'm happy to report that it was much easier to find good options than I thought it would be! At every table service restaurant we dined at, I was able to speak with my server about my needs and they made any necessary substitutions without a second thought or any additional expense. I was even able to be fairly successful at the quick service locations in the parks and resort hotels. Even though it's harder to make substitutions at those locations because of the prevalence of mobile order, I was able to find something I could have on almost every quick service menu. Here are the 2 best tips I can offer based on what helped me have an easier time managing my Diabetes while on vacation:
Tip #1: Check the menus in advance.
The menu for every table service and quick service restaurant at Disney World is posted at this link and on the My Disney Experience app. Looking over them in advance helped me make a plan for what I was going to order. Checking the menus in advance especially helped me know which quick service locations were going to offer me the most options while also accommodating the tastes of my family members. We decided the night before each park visit which quick service locations we were going to enjoy, and as soon as we were able to book a mobile order pickup window for our desired meal time, we ordered our food on the app so we didn't have to wait a long time for it or settle for a less diabetic-friendly option because our desired location wasn't available.
Tip #2: Note your dietary needs when you check in for your table service dining reservations on the app.
When you note on your reservation that you have dietary restrictions, your server knows to communicate with you regarding your needs. In my case, my Diabetes could be accommodated by making a couple of simple substitutions (such as broccolini in lieu of potatoes, etc), but if you have more complex needs, the chefs are more than happy to come out and speak to you. Some restaurants may even be able to put together a special sugar free dessert option for you if you give them a heads up when you check in for your meal.
I don't claim to be an expert on managing Diabetes yet. My diagnosis is still very new and I'm in the process of learning how my body works and what my dietary limits are. But I was able to keep my glucose at steady levels while on my Disney vacation and, to be completely honest, in some ways I found it easier to manage my Diabetes at Disney World than at some of the local restaurants in my hometown. As always, it's recommended that you consult with your doctor about best practices for managing health conditions during travel, but my personal experience as a diabetic at Disney World was overwhelmingly positive!
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