I just got back from a cruise, a first time endeavor for me and my husband. We did ten days in the Mediterranean, starting in Athens and ending in Barcelona, with a couple of days at each end in those cities, and arrived home late Sunday night.
Here’s what I learned:
-There are healthy options on a cruise, but they are sometimes very hard to find, and some of the menu descriptions can be deceiving, so ask. For example, I learned the hard way that “crisp” can mean deep fried. Ugh. You’re welcome.
-You’re better off doing the seated dining where it’s an option, because a buffet is an invitation to overindulgence. (buffets are my natural enemy in the wild, and I avoid them at all costs whenever possible).
-Food is available 24/7. That doesn’t mean you need to eat it 24/7.
-The quickest way to eat regrettably, and inflate your cruise tab, is alcohol. As always. This is the same on land or sea.
-Air France has the worst airplane food I’ve ever encountered on an international flight, hands down. I wasn’t expecting that!
Anyway, as I mentioned before I left, I didn’t want to gain a pound a day like my pal Rick Steves says can be common on a cruise (aieee!). Nightmare scenario for me!
Here were the strategies I employed:
- Don’t snack between meals. This had an unintended consequence for me, unfortunately, because when you eat lunch at noon or 1 and your dinner seating isn’t until 8:15, that’s a very long gap between meals. I normally try to eat every 2-3 hours, and this caused me some headaches I probably didn’t need to have. Due to the complete upending of my usual routine inherent in any travel, sometimes the first sign I’d have that I was hungry was a splitting headache. NO BUENO. Were I to do it again, I would plan in some healthy snacks every few hours, by stockpiling fruit from the breakfast buffet (which I started doing eventually but not at first).
- Load up on lean meats and veggies for dinner. Most meal options come with veggies, but also you can order sides of extra veggies. One night lobster was a menu option – YES PLEASE!
- Dessert was always a fruit plate. And a fruit plate was always an option on the dessert menu. I took the view of, which of these options would leave me feeling the best? Almost every time it was fruit plate.
- SO MUCH WALKING. I definitely got more walking on the days we didn’t book excursions from the boat, because we ended up walking off the boat and exploring the port city all on foot. But, even some (not all, but some!) excursions netted us up to 8 miles of walking, which was a surprise!. (Personal high was about 12 miles the day we explored Athens, all on foot!)
- Eat the local delicacy when on shore. Life can’t be all boiled chicken and broccoli, my friends! Pizza in Naples, tapas in Spain, daube provencal in Arles. The walking will take care of it!
I’ve lately been focusing my mindset on fueling my body in the way it wants to be fueled, and that means avoiding sugar. Protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates work best for me, but things like desserts that are pure sugar will leave me feeling sluggish and bloated for sure, so when it came time to choose dessert, it was usually pretty easy for me to pick the thing that would help me feel my best. Somebody in our dinner group commented one evening that I was “being so good” with my dessert selections, and I could honestly say that I just liked fruit better than the other options. I wasn’t trying consciously to be on a diet, I just want to not feel crappy while I’m on vacation!
So…you may be wondering…how did this all work out for me?
Well, last night I went to my class and weighed in up 3.2 pounds, so that doesn’t sound very great, does it?
Unless you know, like I do, that my body always freaks out when I take an inter-continental flight, and that it would take a day or two to settle down.
This morning I weighed in down 3.5 pounds from yesterday. So that means I had a net change of just about nothing. That was my goal. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.