The diversity of visitors to Walt Disney World knows no bounds — and with those diverse visitors comes an infinite number of dietary preferences and requirements. We hear from loads of readers with different food needs, and we hear you loud and clear! And with 2019 beginning, we know a lot of you are looking to the popular keto diet to help keep your New Year’s Resolutions!
So we’re here with tips and recommendations for a ketogenic diet (commonly called keto).
We’re going to offer some tips and recommendations so that if you’re following a ketogenic diet, you know how to attack the always-expanding world of dining in Walt Disney World!
What is a Ketogenic (keto) diet?
Eating a ketogenic diet means limiting carbohydrates and increasing fats consumed. There are different degrees of keto, which result in slightly different levels of carbs and fats (i.e. your macros), but the premise is the same.
So what are you going to eat on vacation in a World where it seems every meal is packed with carbohydrates (sugar, refined flours, and otherwise)? Let the DFB help, of course!
How can I eat keto at Walt Disney World?
The trick to eating keto in Walt Disney World is really to advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions or alternatives. And if you want to know what’s in the food you’re ordering — ask! Quick service and snack kiosks will have binders with ingredients and allergens listed, and table service spots will typically bring out a chef to discuss your options.
So here are a few keto diet tips for Disney World:
- You’ll want to request sandwiches/burgers without buns (or with alternatives for buns, like lettuce leaves).
- Ask to substitute those carb-heavy sides (like fries, other potato products, pasta, etc.) for some veggies — ideally with butter. OR order dishes without the sides. If you’re at a counter service location, this will actually reduce the cost of your meal purchase.
- When you find a great meal packed with proteins, ask about the ingredients in the rubs and sauces. Some may contain a lot of sugar, and you’ll want to steer clear of those or ask for your meat to be prepared without the sauce or rub.
- Stay aware of calories if you’re on a ketogenic diet for weight loss. If you’ve been doing keto for a while, you know how easily those high-fat snacks and meals can add up, calorie-wise. If you’re not doing keto for weight loss, you won’t have to worry about the calorie counting component. But if you are eating a ketogenic diet for weight loss and are counting calories, continue to keep that in mind in Disney World as many meat dishes are prepared with plenty of high-cal butters and oils. (And turkey legs ring in at 1000 calories each.)
- Finally, do your research ahead of time, and plan your dining with keto in mind. Some restaurants will offer far more appealing options than others.
Let’s dive into some great keto snack, table service, and quick service options!
Snacking on keto can be a bit of a challenge at Walt Disney World, but there are options in every park, in Disney Springs, and at the resorts. Look for friendly options like boiled eggs, which are often found in grab-and-go cases at resorts and in the parks (even at Starbucks locations!); massive dill pickles, which you can find in many of the healthier kiosks like Liberty Square Market in the Magic Kingdom and Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom; and mini wheels of Babybel cheese, which you can find all over the place thanks to Disney’s relationship with the company.
Finding more interesting snacks is, admittedly, difficult. For a time, Golden Oak Outpost offered Barbecue Chicarrons, which were a great option. Hopefully they’ll come back (or make an appearance elsewhere!).
Also at Magic Kingdom are a Chicken Skewer and a Candied Bacon Skewer. (These debuted at Liberty Square Market, but have moved to Westward Ho. Ask a cast member where they can be found when you’re there.) The Candied Bacon has a sweet glaze and so is higher in carbohydrates, but the Chicken is a great option!
Chip & Dale Snack Co. offers varieties that include nuts and seeds, including the Crunchy Spicy Mix and the Roasted Nut Mix. You’ll want to double check the ingredients to be sure there aren’t any hidden sugars! Meanwhile Zuri’s Sweets Shop in Animal Kingdom offers Krave Jerky, which is easy to throw in your bag for snacks on the go.
At Terra Treats in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can find some standard Buffalo Chicken wings that will quell those hunger pangs sans carbs!
If you really want to go out on a limb, consider a stop into Mitsukoshi in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion. Here you’ll find some unusual snacks that might work for you. Saki Ika Prepared Squid and Dried Crabs offer some satisfying crunch and few carbs.
Of course, if you want to go really big (or get something keto that you can share with a fellow keto pal or, really, anyone), there’s always this guy. You’ll find Turkey Legs in many locations throughout Disney World.
Recommended Ketogenic Table Service
Table service dining while keto is the easiest because these meals are typically the most customizable. You can ask a server to substitute a carbohydrate-rich side dish for some appropriate steamed vegetables, or you can speak to the chef if you have any questions. One thing to bear in mind at table service locations is the use of rubs and sauces, which often contain sugar (even if they seem like they don’t!). Don’t be afraid to ask! Your go-to table service options will be steak, grilled meat, and barbecue (minus the sauce).
So where can you get some stellar food that just happens also to meet your keto requirements? Ooh, we’ve got some goodies!
‘Ohana, the popular family-style, all-you-care-to-enjoy spot located on the second floor of the Polynesian Village Resort’s Great Ceremonial House, offers delicious grilled meats as the centerpiece of the dinner experience.
And while we love the sides and the ‘Ohana Bread Pudding, this is one meal where you’ll find lots of built-in goodies that’ll leave you satisfied. The meal starts with a colorful salad (ask for the dressing on the side) and includes sides like Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings, Pork Dumplings (eat that tasty filling without the wrappers), and mixed stir fry veggies.
The main issues you’ll face with ‘Ohana are extra carbs in the glaze of the chicken wings, and, of course, the fact that you’re paying for a full meal and can’t eat the included dessert or the noodle side dish. So consider ‘Ohana a good option from the perspective of a meal your family will probably enjoy that offers several items that you’re able to eat on a keto diet.
Another of our favorite spots to enjoy a table service meal is Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and with a little tweak, you can make your meal keto! One of our favorite meals is the Potjie Inspired which includes two choices like Butter Chicken, Spicy Durban Shrimp, and Paneer Tikka. Typically this comes with a small bowl of rice, but if you request some veggies instead, you’ll have a really flavorful meal and meet your requirements!
Tucked beside World Showcase Lagoon and the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot, La Hacienda de San Angel serves up La Hacienda — basically a platter of Grilled New York Steak, Chicken al Pastor, and Chorizos with sides. Request low-starch vegetables in place of the beans and esquites, and you’ve got yourself a share-able plate of keto-appropriate food.
Of course, if you’re cool with ordering an appetizer as a meal, charcuterie and cheese platters are a great option! This combination of meats, cheeses, and (usually) cornichons is great for the keto diet. If you’re concerned about the bread and other carb-heavy accompaniments, you can ask for them to be omitted (or replaced with something appropriate), or get them on a separate plate for a tablemate!
And if you really want to guarantee you’ll have plenty of proteins, head to a steakhouse! Yachtsman Steakhouse, Shula’s Steakhouse, Le Cellier, and STK Orlando all offer copious meat options so you can keep things a little more interesting while staying on track. Plus, steakhouses often allow diners to select their own sides, which means you can opt for creamed spinach or steamed veggies that are to your liking!
Seafood restaurants like Coral Reef, Paddlefish, Flying Fish, Narcoossee’s, and bluezoo are also terrific options for keto diners. Grilled fish and sauteed shrimp are always on the menu, and keto-friendly vegetables are also commonplace.
Recommended Quick Service
Quick Service keto eating is a little more challenging than table service simply because a quick service location likely has fewer options in the kitchen. But if you do a little research ahead of your trip, you can find spots that have a focus on meats and other keto-appropriate options. Here are some of our favorites!
Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort just introduced a chicken wing entree with several sauce options. Stick with Buffalo or see if you can see the ingredients list for the other sauces to make sure there aren’t too many carbs in your choice.
Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom is pretty well known for its meats. Smoked Chicken and Pulled Pork may suit your needs. You’ll want to skip the sauces here, which contain some significant sugars. But the smoked meat is so flavorful, you won’t miss it. (But since we know they have plastic cheese here, maybe they’ll give you a cup on the side for dunking!) As for sides: the beans and cole slaw likely contain sugars (ask to see the ingredient binder!), but the folks behind the counter will be able to help you with some alternatives. There’s also a good Mixed Greens Salad with Pecans and Chicken here, too!
Also at Animal Kingdom is Satu’li Canteen. The bowls here are customizable, and if you go with the lettuce base and ask for the slaw and boba balls to be left off, the beef and chicken with a sauce make this super satisfying. (Ask about the carb content in the sauces, and make the selection that works for you! Better yet: get it on the side as well so you can control it!)
Disney Springs has several great options for quick service keto meals. You can get your burger on a lettuce bun at D-Luxe Burger, Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza has some great fresh salad options, and The Polite Pig has a menu packed with proteins and creative salads (plus some mean veggie side dishes!). You’ll want to double check the carbs in sauces and rubs, but otherwise: enjoy!
Over in the Magic Kingdom, you can find meat-heavy meals at a couple of quick service spots. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe over in Tomorrowland offers a Pulled Pork sandwich that would be tasty without the bun, and even the Secret Menu Pork Belly Burger is a great choice if it’s still available (minus the bun, of course).
And Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe has lots of meals where one or two omissions will make it keto-friendly. The Fajitas, for example, are delicious eaten without the tortillas (and with some veggies from the fixin’s bar!). Just ask for yours without the rice and beans (and be sure to see what they’ll replace them with!). And the Tacos 3 Ways offers some flavor variety (just nix the tortillas again). And don’t forget to order up some guacamole (or see if it can be subbed for the carbo-loaded sides!).
Sunshine Seasons, the perennial favorite in Epcot’s Future World, offers some meaty options like grilled salmon and roasted chicken, but you’ll want to be sure to hold the sauces and seek out stations with sides that will work for you.
Another favorite food court is Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation Resort, where there are plenty of protein options that will require only slight modification (typically of the sides). Mongolian Grilled Fish and the Asian Chicken Bowl (be clear about which vegetables you want!) as well as Burgers and the Grilled Chicken Sandwich (without buns!) would also be tasty options.
Eating keto at Walt Disney World doesn’t have to be a monotonous experience from plate to plate, and we hope these tips and recommendations will help to make your next trip not just fun but also delicious!
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