Paleo Day 19: Theme Parks and Paleo Don't Mix Well

Thursday, June 19, 2014–Today was my first day in LA on this trip, and it was one hundred percent about the Disneyland experience.  While I have been to Disney World many times, Disneyland is something that always eluded me.  My partner loves both and used to work at Disneyland.  I therefore was promised, and got, the entire Disneyland experience–all seventeen hours worth.  I stayed surprisingly close to my Paleo protocol and got a ton of exercise while also having a lot of fun too.

We wanted to get on the road very early so that we could beat traffic, as much as you can beat LA traffic anyway, and to get an early jump on one of the theme park’s most popular rides, “Radiator Springs Racers”.  Due to having to manage some stuff that was going on back east, we actually didn’t get started until 6:30.  Since we were still on east coast time that wasn’t too bad, even with our late night the night before.  By the time we got to the park and through the gate it was ten minutes before seven.

Up until this point I had assumed we would be going to eat right away.  Unfortunately that would have defeated the entire purpose of getting to the park early.  The idea, as I found out later, was to be at the park gates at 7:30 so you can be let in and get to the front of the line for the staging gate that takes you into the amusements part of the park.  They know why all of us were there early apparently, and they were right, as at 8:00 the inner “gate” line started moving.  They don’t just open the line for everyone to charge to their favorite ride.  I guess they’ve seen stampedes before.  Instead a line of workers and security people, shoulder to shoulder but holding a restraint line, slowly walk us through the park to the beginning of the ride line.  While all that was interesting, I was more interested in getting some food.  I hadn’t even had a sip of water yet, so while waiting for the “inner gate” line to start I grabbed a quick banana and water.  I would find out that seltzer water is pretty impossible to find in Disneyland.

After riding that ride, dealing with more stuff back east, and taking in some additional rides, we finally made our way from the “California Adventure” part of the theme park to Disneyland proper, where we hoped to find some breakfast.  There were only two places open for breakfast however, a cafe with a 45 minute wait and a character breakfast buffet.  While it was adorable watching these kids going up to the characters to get their pictures taken and collect autographs, I wasn’t too keen to pay nearly $30 for bacon and eggs.  Not wanting to miss any of the theme park experience, including getting bent over on purchases and merchandising, I caved and paid for it.  I’m sure me being really hungry had nothing to do with it.

This was a breakfast buffet, which is actually quite the nemesis for someone on a restricted diet.  Buried among the waffles, pancakes, chocolate croissants and pastries, puddings and so on, were some staple items I could eat.  There were of course bacon, eggs, ham and sausage.  Right next to that were these delicious looking fluffy buttermilk biscuits, but I just kept my eye on what I could eat.  Which was bacon, eggs, ham and sausage.  I added a small helping of hash browns to the plate too.  In case I wasn’t sure how hungry I was, it was apparent when I wolfed this down.  I got a second plate of bacon and eggs and added some fresh fruit to it too.  That rounded out breakfast before we started our trek around the rest of the facility.

After finishing up breakfast we started our tour of the park rides and various attractions.  Before we knew it was 2 pm and I wasn’t sure if we were going to be eating an early or late dinner.  At that point in the day however I was feeling off and needed to eat something.  We finally settled on the nearby “Hungry Bear” restaurant.  This was typical fast food style options.  They were actually pretty accommodating on my burger.  They had a chiliburger that they gladly removed the cheese and wrapped in lettuce.  Since all the snack items I found had either processed grains or dairy, I was also pretty wiped out on blood sugar so rather than foregoing fries I got sweet potato fries.  That would be paleo at home, but since I’m sure they fried them in vegetable oil it tips that over into non-Paleo land for me.  In my mind it was better than succumbing to an ice cream cone, pretzel or churro later though.

After wolfing down the lunch, plus some fries from my partner’s basket, we resumed our tour of the rides.  After making our way back to California Adventure to try to get reservations at Carthay Circle.  We ended up only being able to get reservations for 5:45, so it turns out we were eating an early dinner after all.  I thought that after the large lunch I would be overly full, but by the time 5:45 came around I was pretty hungry again.

We started dinner with some cocktails.  I got a champagne type concoction called the “Sparkling Mare.”  I would have just had some wine but since one of the ingredients was Elderflower liquor and that sounded really interesting as something for me to try, I just went with it.  It turns out that makes a rather sweet beverage, which thankfully had a little bit of bitterness at the end so it didn’t have an overly syrupy flavor overall.  For once there were several options that I could eat without worrying about how Paleo they were.  Sure they had lots of pastas, as well as a delicious sourdough bread for the table that I swear I only smelled and never tasted.  I ended up settling on a ceviche appetizer and a giant bone-in pork chop severed on top of braised fennel with a cherry mushroom sauce.  All that food with a bottle of white wine between us was more than enough, so dessert was skipped.  That was a good thing too because the very non-paleo semifreddo looked good enough for me to finally break and truly indulge in a full non-paleo course.

We left The Circle to once again do more through the park.  There were still more rides and shows to see.  By the time 10:30pm rolled around we were waiting for the Fantasmic light show.  I was dragging butt after a very full day and I was also feeling an overwhelming urge to eat some pineapple and get some water.  As we were walking around during the day I finally saw two stands that were serving straight up fruit as a snack.  One of them were these “pineapple spikes” that looked like a perfect convenience snack food.  With ten minutes to spare before the show I found one of the nearby stands which thankfully still had their supply.  I went to buy one but then was not only overcome with an urge to eat that but to get some other stuff too.  When all was said and done, and sixteen dollars had left my hands, I had a vitamin water, liter of regular water, sliced mango and pineapple.  I thought the sugar surge would carry me the rest of the way.  While it did quench my thirst and appetite it didn’t enliven me too much. I was just beat.

Seventeen hours in the park, on our feet for most of it, covering twelve miles of walking and being in a perpetual stimulation mode was more than enough for me.  The food actually balanced out the expenditure for the day.  I know if I wasn’t eating Paleo I would have had at least a pretzel and an ice cream.  I probably would have also had a dessert, some beer and maybe a churro too.  Would I have needed any of them?  No.  Would I have enjoyed them enough to make it worth doing it?  I’d say that’s a gray area.  More likely I would have been impulse eating.  Instead I stuck to what my regiment said and successfully navigated a very full day in a park full of delicious non-Paleo treats that kept calling my name.