Third part of this series as we explore the best meal plan options. What are the healthiest options? Amusement parks aren't known for healthy eating. This is the collection of the healthier or lighter options available on the meal plan.
Before I dive into the list of the healthiest choices for the meal plan, I need to talk about diets and nutrition. Kings Island offers a pretty wide range of food options, some better than others. A strict dieter or nutritionist will be frustrated over what is available. What I’m proposing below are options that are either on the lighter-side, items that can be adjusted and you a control what is included and meals that won’t leave you feeling bloated and yucky.
I’m fairly knowldgeable about different diet strategies, but not an expert, like a doctor or certified nutritionist. It is easy to goof up a diet, with the media saying one kind of food is good for you one week, only to turn around a few months later and contradict themselves. Most of those journalists are taking reports out of context as they are released from a multitude of sources. The problem is that different strategies often contradict others. If you were doing a low-fat diet, then started dabbling in low-carb/high-protein, you probably wouldn’t see good results. Those efforts cancel each other out. One has sugar or carbs (which is not fat), the other names sugar and carbs as the enemy and encourages meats and healthier fats. I wanted to point that out. I’m brainstorming a more extreme version of this article to see if there is a Park Hack where you can lose weight via Kings Island activities and the Meal Plan options. Watch for that in the future!
Here they are, the best meal plan options if you want to attempt to eat healthy while using your meal plan!
2-Entree Plate - To keep this option on the lighter side, you can opt for the side of steamed white rice which is often out of view in the cooker. Then you can choos among the lighter entree options. Several of the options are covered in a salty/sugary glaze. They are fun, but not great if you're avoiding sugar. Some items have breading.
Hanks Mexican Grill
Burrito Bowl - If you build it with healthy options like white rice, beans, choice of meat, pico, hot salsa and lettuce. When I'm being good on my diet, I skip the rice and ask for both kinds of beans. But then I'm usually bad and can't skip the cheese and a little sour cream. By the way, what is it with the sour cream and similarly the mayo at Subway? It is like they are trying to get rid of the stuff. You say you want a little and you end up with three tablespoons to a half-cup dumped on! I experiment with ways of communicating the desired amount "shake off the sour cream ladle and then show it to the burrito... just a tiny peek!"
Reds Hall of Fame Grill
Buffalo Chicken Salad - My personal favorite if I'm trying to eat lighter or healthier. You can get dressing on the side. You can also order it without cheese or buffalo sauce. (I've not been able to so that, I like cheese and buffalo chicken.) Either way, this lighter option leaves me feeling a lot better after our meal. The salad is pretty large too, so you don't have much to fear about it not filling you up.
6” Sub - Like I mentioned earlier, the mayo runs thick and deep at these locations. I say "I want one thin line of mayo." What they give me is usually is three times the amount I wanted. If you just say "mayo" they try to cover the other toppings, like they are trying to hide them under a mayo blanket. I don't get it. But seriously, when they ask what veggies you want, go crazy! Know what's available. Ask them what else is in the tubs. I say lettuce, tomato, onions, banana peppers and black olives. You can also get green peppers and jalapeno peppers, I think. This isn't a great option for the slow-carb diet. I can't bring myself to skip the cheese and I've not seen them do a bunless option in the park. I think outside Subway restaurants have a salad option, that is basically a bunless sub. You could always leave the bun, eating the meat and veggies off of it with a fork. Don't forget to ask for a fork, once you leave the tiny window, there is usually no coming back!
Chicken Salad - The Chicken Shack is popular for breaded, fried chicken strips. They are a different style than the chicken tenders in the other locations. Pay attention to the number of strips included with each item. If you're into protein, you could get the chicken strip meal and skip the fries and bread. But the salad puts, I think, two strips on top of a small salad. They will give you a piece of texas toast. You can tell them what you want on the salad and ask them skip the bread if that fits your eating plan.
Smoked Chicken Wings w/ cole slaw and side (when available) - The new smokehouse restaurant in the Soak City amusement park has a variable menu. When available, they have a temporary sign out with additional meal plan options, beyond the chicken tender and fried shrimp meals. There is pulled pork and then this healthier featured item of smoked chicken wings. This location offers fun selection of options for sides. I think you can get coleslaw as part of the main entree, and one additional side. Baked beans, macaroni and cheese and corn bread pudding are the side options other than the seasoned fries... choose wisely!
Additional ideas at several locations
Grilled Chicken Sandwich and skip the bun and fries
Burger and skip the bun and fries
Defining “healthy” food options is highly subjective. These are a few of the options that you might choose if you want to select meal plans that aren’t loaded with carbs. Some in this list are breaded and fried. These items can be modified with buns, chips and fries to be avoided as you wish. I hope you have many fun days at the park. Keeping yourself feeling healthy and full of energy is often the result of making good choices at meal time.
Avoid these pitfalls
No matter what your choice, these are other problems that can be unhealthy habits or behaviors that can leave you feeling yucky.
- Finishing everyone else’s meal. Park food is premium priced. If you’re on the meal plan, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Learn to push away from the table when YOUR meal is done. (A personal challenge of mine.)
- Drinking tons of extra calories. The refillable soft drink cups are a great value, but they are also a straight shot of high-fructose corn syrup! Nothing makes me feel quite as bad as when I’ve had three or more cups of sugary drinks following an already heavy meal. I try to select a variety of drinks whenever possible. Remember water is a choice, even in the souvenir cups!
- Getting dehydrated. This goes along with the last caution. If you want to feel tip top, or need to counter some less than ideal food options, water is your friend. You can use the bottle refill stations at nearly every restroom to top off your cup with cool, filtered water! Alternating water with the soft-drinks is a good way to have fun and to avoid feeling bad.
>> I know there are so many ways to look at this topic. Do you have any other healthy meal plan options or modifications to share? We can all benefit by sharing those healthier tips!
Photo credit: Ginny