Tara Gidus, Nutritionist for runDisney, Says Eat Light, Eat Often

One of the advantages of registering for a runDisney event is not only running through the Disney theme parks, but also the World-Class support team helping you reach the start and finish lines. Olympian Jeff Galloway is the official runDisney training consultant who develops specific training plans for each runDisney race. However, you cannot complete your training plan without proper nutrition, and runDisney has you covered there too. Tara Gidus is the official nutritionist for runDisney, and gives competitors tips on fueling, hydration, and eating healthy. Continue reading for our interview with Tara where she shares some nutrition tips for runners, as well as the costume she’ll be wearing for this weekend’s runDisney Princess Half Marathon.

Nutritionist Tara Gidus

Nutritionist Tara Gidus; photo provided


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Tara Gidus is known as the “Diet Diva,” and she is also the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic NBA team. A life-long athlete, Tara was always interested in sports, exercise, and nutrition, and she double majored in college in “Nutrition, Fitness, and Health” and “Dietetics.” She’s worked with active people including professional athletes, executives, and regular folks who want to make sure they’re getting all the energy they need for their life. Gidus continued,

All sports are interesting to me. I work with professional water skiers to golfers and tennis players. Every sport brings a different aspect of nutrition to it, and that’s what I really love. Some are the high performance sports where you’re using a lot of energy like basketball. And then you have a sport like golf where you really have to focus, and so that takes a lot of mental energy, and nutrition has a huge role in that mental energy too. So I love the gamut of what I do working with athletes.

PGA Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Walt Disney World

Camilo Villegas watches his putt at the 2012 PGA Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Walt Disney World Resort. Photo by Preston Mack, © Disney. All Rights Reserved


Sunday, February 24, 2013, runDisney will stage the 5th annual runDisney Princess Half Marathon. This is a women’s focused running event at the Walt Disney World resort, and I asked Tara if there were particular nutritional issues women runners need to focus on, as opposed to men. She replied,

All runners need to focus on making sure that they’re eating before a run, when they’re doing a long run. Of course you want to have something to eat before, during, and after a run. So that doesn’t change (between women and men). What I think is different for women is that they tend to get busy and are multi-tasking with taking care of kids along with balancing work. Women need to make sure they’re focused on fueling themselves, not forgetting to eat, and planning ahead so they’re grabbing the right things and not eating the leftover Goldfish from their kids.

Tara Gidus is an accomplished runner herself who has completed seven full marathons – each time qualifying for the Boston Marathon. She ran Boston in 2004, braving the brutally hot conditions (86 degrees at race start). Tara will also be part of the field for this year’s Princess Half Marathon, and even dressing up as Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.” Tara said, “this will be my first time dressing up for a race. I’ve got the tiara, yellow Belle costume, and I’m ready to go.”

Tara Gidus, Mickey & Chef Steff

Tara Gidus, Mickey & Chef Steff at 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon Meet-Up. Photo by Ali Nasser © Disney. All Rights Reserved


One of Tara’s big nutritional messages is Eat Light, Eat Often. “I’m pretty much always eating,” she added, “you’ll see me eating 6-7 times a day or more.” Runners burn a lot of calories, and are therefore hungry. Tara explained, “if you don’t have those calories spread throughout the day, or have them around the time you’re exercising, it catches up to you later, but you don’t need it later.” Marathon runners sometimes gain weight during training. That happens because they don’t eat at the proper time, or eat too much when their body doesn’t need it. Tara recommended the following foods to have around when you Eat Life, Eat Often: Greek yogurt, almonds, energy bars, nutrition shakes, and fresh fruit.

I’m currently training with my 12 year old daughter to run as a 2 person team in the runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge. I asked Tara if there were any nutritional issues I should focus on during with my daughter. Tara answered,

I’m a big believer in supply and demand. Supply your body with energy when you need it. Have a little snack before, a little snack after, just to support that exercise.

Gidus further emphasized to make sure the calorie demands for the exercise were met, and make sure you have a snack after the run – unless you’re doing it right before dinner (within 30-45 min). Getting food into your body after a run is essential for replenishing calories, and helping your body recover. She goes into more detail in the video below.

I want to thank Tara Gidus, official nutritionist for runDisney, for taking the time to chat with me, and especially for the nutritional pointers as I train with Evie to run the Expedition Everest Challenge. I want to wish Tara the best of luck with runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon, and can’t wait to see those pictures of her running in that Belle costume.

Are any of you planning on running in the Princess Half Marathon, or some other runDisney event? Do you follow Tara Gidus’ nutritional advice of Eat Light, Eat Often during your training? Please leave a comment below, and let us know what you think. For more running adventures, family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I’m a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.