Cruise Dining
Photo By: Tom Mascardo (Creative Commons)

Food is everywhere on a cruise, from five-star restaurants and gourmet menus to themed buffets, dedicated grills and cocktail canapés. That doesn’t even cover the room service, round-the-clock ice cream, pizzerias, delis, bakeries or sweet shops on board. With eating such a big part of cruising, how can you avoid packing on the pounds at sea, and why does it even matter if you might eat a bit too much?

Why You Don’t Want to Overeat on Board

Overeating is often a part of vacation, but the consequences are no one’s favorite cruise activity. If you overeat, you’re more likely to feel bloated and lethargic, without the energy to join in the different games, contests, tours and other activities on each day’s itinerary. Excessive eating can also lead to sickness, and if you have special dietary needs – such as requiring a low-sugar or low-salt diet – overeating can unbalance your body chemistry with severe effects. The more you eat the more likely you are to gain weight as well, and even a few pounds can make a difference in how comfortable your clothes may be at the end of the cruise compared to how they felt when you set sail. And who wants to get home and go straight on a diet to lose those extra pounds, when it’s better to avoid overeating and never gain them in the first place?

Cruise Buffet

Photo By Russell Otway

Avoiding Overeating Without Missing Out

You don’t have to skip meals, avoid a scrumptious treat or go hungry at all on a cruise to avoid overeating. Simply be sensible with your food – if a dish doesn’t sound appetizing or doesn’t look appealing, don’t bother ordering it or taking any from the buffet. While dining room menus may offer a variety of courses, there is no requirement that you indulge in every course for every meal. Similarly, try not to fill up on familiar foods, especially if you’re eager to try things you’ve never eaten before or want to indulge in different tastes.

It’s easier than a lot of cruise passengers realize to downsize their meal portions, and that can be a fantastic step to keep from overeating. Many pasta dishes, for example, are available in both appetizer and entrée sizes, and you can request to get the appetizer size or a half portion for your entrée without difficulty. If that is not an option for the food you want to try, consider splitting any of the courses with someone else – you will both get to try the food, but without too much to eat. Leaving a few bites uneaten from every course is another way to keep from overeating – just 2-3 leftover bites of the appetizer, entrée and dessert from every meal will really help you cut down.

Cruise Buffet

Photo By: Russell Otway

When you’re at the buffet, it can be harder to avoid overeating, especially with so many delicious options at your fingertips. To keep from eating too much, start with something fresh – a small salad or piece of fruit is not only healthier, but the fiber of fresh fruits and vegetables will help fill you up faster so you aren’t as tempted to overeat. Deliberately dish up less of each food you want to try, remembering that if you really like it, you can always go back for seconds – but you’ll be surprised at how satisfied you can be with a smaller portion, with plenty of room left to try something else without feeling stuffed.

It is also important to be mindful of mealtimes and the signals your body sends you about how much you’re eating. If your dining time is just an hour away, for example, you probably don’t really need to make a quick trip to the buffet first. Pay attention to how full you feel, and stop eating when you’re no longer hungry so you don’t eat so much you start to feel sick.

When Overeating Happens

Cruise Dining

Photo By: Russell Otway

A little overindulgence is inevitable on a cruise, and if you do overeat, you can take steps to feel better quickly. A quick nap or a casual stroll around the deck can help your body digest food more smoothly. You may feel even better if you plan for overeating by working off calories ahead of time with a trip to the ship’s gym, choosing an active shore tour or taking the stairs more often. While you will still want to avoid eating too much, staying active can help your body process food and keep the pounds from adding up on every day of your vacation. And of course, be sure you pack appropriate medication for indigestion or other food-related discomfort, just to be sure you can feel better as quickly as possible and don’t miss any more of your cruise and its delicious treats.

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