How to Stay Fit on a Cruise – Part 2: Food

DSC05746One of the best things about going on a cruise is the food.  So much of it is available pretty much all of the time, and so much of it is delicious.  It’s hard not to give in to temptation and indulge in a little, or a lot, of everything during your vacation.

Many people that go on cruises say they gained several pounds during their trip from all the eating and drinking they did.  Maybe you have the philosophy that while you’re on vacation you’re going to live it up and enjoy yourself and worry about the consequences when you get home.  Maybe you don’t even worry about adding a couple more pounds to your waistline at all.

If you’re the type of person that wants to try to keep the overindulgence to a minimum and you believe that you don’t have to eat everything offered on the ship to enjoy yourself, then there are many ways you can eat healthier while you cruise.

Cruise Lines want to cater to all kinds of eaters, healthy or not, so they serve everything from very bad choices to healthier foods.  With the vast array of delicious looking dishes, it’s easy to go crazy and have to try one (or more) of everything.  It’s up to you to make wise choices, or pay the price later by having to diet or exercise it off.  Just like when you go to a restaurant at home, healthy choices do exist and you can choose to eat as healthy as you want.  The same rules to eating healthy at home apply when you’re on a cruise.

First let’s look at the choices of foods that are offered on a cruise that will help pack on the pounds.

These include hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, pastas, fried foods, French fries, pizza, donuts and pastries, gelato and ice cream, sugary desserts, dishes cooked in butter and fatty sauces, gravies, creamy soups, cheeses, meats, and the list goes on and on.  And don’t forget the chocoholic’s nights that many cruise lines have.

When it comes to drinks there are sodas, alcoholic beverages, gourmet high-calorie coffees, milkshakes, etc.  Even the free drinks offered like lemonade and fruit drinks are high in sugar and calories.

In addition to the calories, many of these foods are also high in salt and artificial ingredients.

Since most people on a cruise tend to eat at the buffet, at least once a day, it’s easy to overeat.  This is a problem with any buffet, on a cruise or at home.  Since it’s “all you can eat”, many people feel they have to stuff themselves.  But some of dishes are served more than once so you have the opportunity to eat them at another meal and you don’t have to heap it on your plate.  We’ve all seen people at buffets load up their plate with a mountain of food, and we’ve all seen people at buffets so overweight they can barely walk.  It doesn’t need to be that way.  So what can you do to eat healthier?

1)   Cut down on eating foods from the bad list (described above).  Eat mostly vegetables as long as they aren’t cooked in fatty sauces, etc.

2)   Eat more salad.  There are many good choices at the salad bar, lots of veggies, fruits, cottage cheese, etc.  Make yourself a big salad before you eat your main meal.  That will help fill you up so you don’t eat as much of the higher calorie foods.  Watch the dressings though; many are high in fat.  I eat my salads with no dressing.  I like to add a few small chunks of fruit to my salad for flavor instead.

3)   When it comes to snack time or dessert, instead of eating one or more sugary, fatty desserts, have a piece of fruit.  The fruit has fiber, less sugar than a normal dessert, and no fat.  Just don’t overdo it on the fruit either since it still has quite a bit a sugar.

4)   You can also snack on a few nuts or seeds as long as they aren’t roasted in oil.  Nuts and seeds are high in calories so don’t take more than a small handful.  A few sprinkled on your salad are a nice addition.

5)   Some ships have healthier choices near the spa that include organic, lower fat, lower sugar options.

6)   A healthier breakfast could include a boiled egg or vegetable omelet, a little cottage cheese or yogurt, orange juice or tea, unsweetened oatmeal, or a piece of fruit, rather than scrambled eggs (probably cooked in butter), bacon or sausage, hash browns, pastries, or sugary cereals.

7)   As far as drinks, avoid the soda, sugary drinks, and alcohol.  Drink unsweetened tea (iced or hot) or water.  You can also bring some of your own powdered drink mixes from home such as Crystal Light to add to your water.  Some ships have a juice bar where you can get healthy, freshly made juices like orange, carrot, carrot apple, etc.

8)   While you’re in port, resist the temptation to buy ice cream, fudge, etc.  Bring some healthier snacks with you.  We carry some low calorie protein bars with us on cruises so we have something to snack on while we’re in port.

You don’t have to come back from your cruise a size larger than when you started.  With a few smart choices you can eat healthier and stay fit regardless of the length of your vacation.

All images copyright © Eric T. Christensen

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