How healthy are you going to be while you’re on vacation?
If you’re going on a cruise, it can be one thing to make sure you hit the onboard gym at least a couple of times throughout your trip, but that will only be so effective if you aren’t eating healthy.
To help you make the right kinds of dietary choices when you’re taking your next cruise, we’ve put together some helpful tips for eating healthy on a cruise ship that can be beneficial for both new and veteran cruisers.
Before we jump into our tips, let’s talk about the benefits of eating healthy on a cruise ship.
Have you been working hard for months, trying to get your beach body ready to lie around on the desk of your cruise ship and show off your hard work?
You won’t be able to keep those gains if you aren’t eating healthy on a cruise ship, because you’ll immediately start to see all the weight you’ve lost begin packing itself back onto your waistline.
A few days of eating whatever and whenever you want, and you can easily put on a few pounds of pure fat. Sugary foods + sugary drinks + alcohol (which breaks down into sugar) = lots of fat once our bodies get through processing all the junk.
‘Traveler’s Diarrhea’ is another condition that many people begin to experience when they’re eating excessively unhealthy foods while they’re away. While you may rarely contract an actual stomach virus, a lot of these digestion issues can actually result from poor dietary choices and excessive alcohol consumption.
Eating healthy while you’re on a cruise ship can help avoid some unpleasant trips to the washroom, in addition to ensuring that you don’t lose all the hard work that you’ve put in to get healthy and look good for your trip.
More than that, eating garbage food for days on end will end up making you feel pretty lousy, even if the food itself was enjoyable at first.
The feeling of being ‘overfed’ can have negative effects on your body, like loss of appetite and excessive gassiness or bloating, so you can see why it’s really important to keep healthy eating in mind while cruising.
It’s a lot harder to regulate how much you’re eating when you’re surrounded by excessive amounts of food all the time.
Spending too many meals at the buffet is a good way to fall into a habit of overeating throughout your trip.
On the other hand, many cruise ships have dining options in full dining rooms, where meals are served as ordered rather than on buffet tables.
If you’re planning on eating healthy on a cruise ship, plan to eat the majority of your meals in a la carte restaurants, which make it easier to portion control your meals.
When we’re being offered big, heavy meals that sit like bricks in our stomachs, many of us will be inclined to order them, even if we know we won’t feel all that great afterward.
As human beings, we naturally crave meals that are more filling – it all ties back to our natural instincts from the early age of man, when we couldn’t always find food when we wanted it.
Unfortunately, many adults already aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables, so eating exclusively rich, sugary/fatty foods on vacation can make those issues worse and make you feel downright terrible by the end of your trip.
Eating healthy on a cruise ship means making choices for some meals that are more focused on nutrition, rather than simply what we ‘feel’ like eating at any given time.
Planning to have a salad instead of heavy proteins or starches is a great choice not only for our digestive and nutritional health but for our waistlines as well.
Midday snacks are a luxury that should only be enjoyed once or twice throughout your trip, but when there are treats at every stop throughout your day on the ship, it can be hard to resist the temptation to take tea time every day.
Fight the urge to eat by finding other more active ways to keep yourself engaged throughout the day. Go for a swim, or walk around and explore all the nooks and crannies of the ship.
You never know when you might find a hideaway in the corner of the ship that truly takes your breath away. And when you do decide to stop for the occasional tea-time snack, make sure you’re keeping the rest of your healthy meal planning in mind, so you don’t ruin the opportunity for healthier choices later in the day.
This is an option that most the sit-down restaurants will offer on your cruise ship, but many people don’t think about trying to ask for it, because they’re afraid that it will be an inconvenience for the cooks. Or, they simply don’t think about it at all.
The truth is that the cooks generally don’t care about a small change like that, especially if you’re not asking for a lot of other special requests with your meal. The health difference between eating steamed vs sauteed veggies is shocking when you look at the calories that oil or butter add to your vegetable sides.
That makes this one of the best tips for eating healthy on a cruise ship since you can make this small change to many meals throughout your trip and still enjoy your food while cutting back on some avoidable calories.
You don’t always have to have a heaping pile of food on your plate at every meal.
There’s an old expression about your “eyes being bigger than your stomach”, which essentially means that many of us like to order or plate ourselves a lot more food than we want to eat because we’re hungry when we’re doing the portioning.
Making a conscious effort to avoid overeating by requesting smaller portions can take the frustration out of trying to stop yourself from eating – especially when it feels like you’ve still got a substantial amount of food left to eat on your plate, and you’ve already had your fill.
Most places will be glad to offer you a smaller portion, as long as you request it. Talk to your server about wanting a portion-controlled meal from the beginning, and they may even have suggestions that can help with eating healthy on a cruise ship, based on their current menu offerings.
You may not want to hear this, especially on vacation, but eating healthy on a cruise ship means skipping dessert at least once in a while.
Making healthy choices with your meal will only benefit you so much if you’re then sitting down to consume twice your meal’s worth of calories with a sugary post-dinner treat.
If you do feel the need to treat yourself, try to find some healthier options than the chocolate cake, like some fresh fruit. It’s a lot better for our bodies to take in fresh fruit sugars than processed sugars in desserts, so this can be a helpful way to continue eating healthy on a cruise ship, while also satiating our sweet tooth.
Being busy all day might affect the timing of some of your major meals throughout the day, but you shouldn’t allow yourself to sit down to a massive meal right before you’re planning to go to bed.
This is particularly important if you’re planning to drink, because many people resort to late-night snacking after an evening of alcoholic indulgences, to soak up the alcohol in their system and reduce how hungover they’ll feel in the morning.
There are a couple of ways that you can provide the same benefit, without adding a couple of thousand extra calories to your intake for the day right before bed.
Drink a couple of large glasses of water. Eat something heavy but healthy (whole-grain bread instead of white). Make healthy food/drink choices, especially in the latter part of the day, and your body will thank you for it in the morning.
This may not be the most attractive proposition we’ll make for you during your cruise, but it’s a good idea to count your drinks.
Give yourself an idea of how much you’re willing to let yourself drink each day throughout your cruise. Not keeping track is a great way to overindulge. Try to determine how many calories are going to be in each of those drinks.
Now, think about how much food you could be eating, instead of drinking those calories. Does it make you want to rethink your drinking habits on your cruise?
Being mindful of drinking doesn’t mean you have to abstain entirely. It’s just important that you’re aware of how much drinking can affect your overall dietary health, as well as how much weight you could potentially put on during your trip if you don’t keep these kinds of things in mind.
It’s hard enough to control how much you’re eating at standard meal times, without allowing yourself to snack throughout the day in between these settings.
Unfortunately, one of the most convenient elements of cruising is also one of the ones that are worst for our health – food and drinks are everywhere, so eating healthy on a cruise ship requires a concerted effort on your part to be aware of what and how much you’re taking in throughout the day.
Not only does snacking between meals add unplanned calories to your daily intake, but it can actually spoil your appetite for the meals that you’ve already planned to make healthy choices.
When you do feel the need to snack, try to make healthy choices. Snack on raw veggies and fruits. Avoid choosing carbs and sweets.
Rich, savory meals can be extremely enjoyable, but it’s extremely important to remember to keep these meals to a moderate size, which means skipping a second helping.
There’s a reason that certain fine dining dishes are typically served in very small portions. Sometimes, it’s because that food is extremely rich and not very healthy.
Unfortunately, on a cruise ship, there are no limits to how much of the complimentary food you can enjoy. This can lead to the temptation to order a second entree if the first one was smaller than you were expecting.
Fight the urge to go crazy and have another small appetizer instead, or try to eat your first meal more slowly to give your stomach a chance to tell your brain that you’ve had enough before you reach for something else.
It’s a good idea to leave the meals in the meal areas on your ship.
Not only does keeping food in your food encourage bad snacking habits, but it’s a good way to give yourself access to food late at night when you really shouldn’t be eating at all.
Eating healthy on a cruise ship necessarily involves maintaining a relatively consistent meal schedule, to keep your metabolism running at peak efficiency.
Bringing food back to your cabin is an excuse to set yourself up to make unhealthy dietary decisions, so you can avoid the temptation altogether by making sure you don’t take leftovers or junk food back to your room on the ship.
Many cruises take place during the warmer months of the year, which means it’s extra important to stay hydrated throughout your trip.
Your overall physical health is impacted heavily by how hydrated you keep your body, and it also helps determine how efficiently your body processes the foods that you’re giving it.
If you want to make the best of your vacation food choices (even if they aren’t always healthy), staying hydrated helps make sure that your body can process everything you’re giving it as best as possible.
All that, and we didn’t even talk about how many other ways that staying hydrated helps your body with things like keeping joints lubricated, fighting infections, and ensuring your organs are all functioning properly.
As you can see, hydration is really important for your overall health, which is why it’s one of the best tips we can give you for eating healthy on a cruise ship.
There’s nothing wrong with eating a decent-sized breakfast since it is the most important meal of the day. And if you’re mindful about eating healthy on vacation, you’ll know it’s a good idea to give your body a chance to digest, before you pile on more food.
Sometimes, the best way to do this is to eat light at lunch if you’ve had a big breakfast, or you’re planning on having a particularly heavy dinner.
Consider making this your one salad a day (Tip #2), and you can cross two wins off your healthy daily checklist at the same time!
Typically, when you go to the sit-down restaurants on the ship, their menus will change a little from day to day.
This means that you’ll see a lot of interesting options float across your menu over the course of your trip, which can make eating healthy on a cruise ship somewhat challenging.
Variety is the spice of life, but take nutritional information into account whenever you’re building your meal plan at the table. Ask the waiter if you don’t have all the information you need about the options available to choose from.
Pick a soup or salad instead of fried appetizers. Get a side of steamed veggies instead of rice or side pasta. Get sorbet for dessert instead of cake. There are lots of great alternatives that you can choose, which are delicious, healthier alternatives.
There are likely going to be a handful of snack carts or treat vendor locations throughout your cruise ship, and it’s a good idea to try and avoid them as much as possible unless you’re building a visit into your meal plan for the day.
Some of these places may specialize in things like soft-serve ice cream, or hand-made baked goods, which may all be very appealing if you’re just getting out of the pool or finishing a workout and feel like you’ve earned a treat.
Occasional treats on vacation are a great thing, just be careful how often ‘one little treat’ works its way into your daily diet. Try to eat only in the restaurants whenever possible, so that you can focus on sticking to the reasonable portions that come with regular, healthy meals.
You may not want to think about actually going to the gym while you’re on your cruise, but there are usually some pretty nice facilities that you can access as part of your stay on the ship.
Whether you’re looking for a stationary bike to get some cardio outside of the packed pool area, some weights to train with, or even just some comfortable, quiet matted floors that you can use to do some low-impact stretching, these facilities are a great resource that sadly gets underused on cruise ships.
You’ll often find that you’ll get the whole place to yourself for large portions of the day, which can make for some peaceful, relaxing time to yourself on an otherwise very busy ship.
Even if you don’t feel like doing an actual workout, you can still just spend some time walking around the ship getting your steps in for the day. You might be surprised how easily you can get twenty or thirty thousand steps in per day when you’re losing track of time exploring everything the ship has to offer.
To help you Getaway Well on your cruising journey, there are a few other options for items that might also increase your enjoyment on your trip.
Consider bringing these with you to help make your cruise as comfortable as possible:
For those of us that suffer from seasickness, cruising can be an intimidating concept. Thankfully, there are other options to taking a never-ending stream of anti-nausea medication throughout your trip.
This sea sickness wristband assists with motion sickness and it has an extended battery life, so you can keep it on and protect yourself all day long.
This 3-Piece luggage set is big enough to bring along all the things that you need to take with you for your trip to be comfortable.
Plus, these hardback suitcases fit inside of one another, so you can stack all three inside of the largest, and stow it under the bed in your cabin to save space in the notoriously cozy cruise ship cabins.
Taking time away from regular life – our work lives and our daily stressors – shouldn’t take away from the positives that we work hard to instill into our daily habits.
Healthy eating, maintaining a regular fitness routine, and keeping health and wellness at the forefront of your daily life is the best way to ensure that you can Getaway Well on every trip – no matter where your travel journeys take you.