Q: I will be going on a cruise soon. How can I avoid gaining 10 pounds — aside from not eating?
A: My father always jokes that sea air shrinks your clothes… It is possible, however, to enjoy yourself on a cruise without gaining weight. And starving yourself is not required! Before you set sail, focus on taking good care of your body through physical activity and healthy eating. Acknowledge that food will be everywhere – after all, cruise ships are the biggest buffet of them all – and drop the notion that you have to eat everything in sight to get your money’s worth. After all, just think of the value of your fare if you had a wonderful, relaxing vacation and you lost (or maintained) your weight! Priceless.
Then try these slimming strategies:
1. Don’t eat at every presented mealtime. Start your day with continental breakfast, breakfast in the dining room, the breakfast buffet or room service — not all four. Choose the one you’ll most enjoy and that will best meet your dietary needs.
2. Grab fruit from the dining room or off of the buffet table for between-meal snacks. After all, if you go too long without eating, that innocent cup of afternoon tea can turn into tea, tea sandwiches, cookies and scones.
3. Make special food requests. Ask that a plate of crudités be put on your table each night in the dining room. Rolls and butter will be much less tempting that way!
4. Discuss special dietary needs with the restaurant manager. Can you get steamed lobster tails (with lemon juice, not drawn butter), poached salmon or extra steamed vegetables
5. Check out the “spa cuisine.” More and more cruise ships have a set menu each night featuring healthier (often lower-calorie) dishes.
6. Mix and match. In other words, order a double shrimp cocktail for a main dish and a vegetable-based soup or consommé as an appetizer.
7. In general, request a lovely fruit plate for dessert instead of soufflés, pastries or chocolates. But make sure to plan for a few indulgences so that you don’t end up feeling deprived. Simply decide what you’d most like to indulge in before you set sail — desserts, hamburgers and fries from the poolside grill or some options from the midnight buffet — and log a few laps around the deck to help “pay” for them.
8. Take advantage of the variety of light fare on buffets – tropical fruits, an endless array of cut-up vegetables, shrimp cocktail, freshly carved turkey breast and more.
9. Focus on activities, not food. If you’re afraid that pre-dinner drinks may lead to too many cocktail nuts, go to a pre-dinner lecture instead. And if the midnight buffet is too tempting, spend the wee hours at the late night movie.
10. Be active! Take part in morning walks on the deck, bike in the gym, and boogie in the disco. Use the stairs, not the elevator, to get from deck to deck. And be sure to stroll around the ports and take advantage of exercise-oriented excursions.