Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Dieting While On A Cruise

I have gone on cruises while on WW, and found that the cruises offered plenty of WW-friendly foods, like egg-based breakfasts, vegetables, chicken breast, and fruit desserts. Below are some comments on how to approach a cruise while staying on WW.

Mindset

When many people plan a cruise vacation, they think about the food: Buffets, piles of chocolates and cookies, unlimited ice cream, delicious steaks. And yes, many cruises offer all of that and more. Mindset is important: Are you really paying thousands of dollars to go on a trip for food? If so, cancel the trip and just go to your nearest buffet restaurant. Change your mindset so that your vacation is about experiences that do not involve food. The food is there to sustain you to give you energy to do the things you want to do, but this is not a "food destination" trip. You can absolutely continue to make healthy eating choices on a cruise ship, just as you would at home, and not lose any experience at all. If you see something delicious, don't deprive yourself, but do ask yourself: Is this special, or is this something I can get at home? Because if you can get it at home, it isn't worth the indulgence.

I am going to say something controversial here: I do not think the food on most cruise ships is exceptional. This is definitely true of the lower-end cruise lines (Carnival) and even the mid-range cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, NCL, etc.). Even on the Queen Mary II, I was completely unimpressed by the food offerings, compared to good restaurants I frequently eat at. Most of the food sits frozen on the ship for weeks. It is prepared in bulk. It is usually not made from fresh, expensive ingredients, the way a 5-star restaurant food would be.

When you get on the ship, board with the mindset that you are not there to eat. You are there for the experiences. Any food you pass over you can get at home (and probably better quality) if you really want it later.

Breakfast
  • Breakfast is served in both the cafeteria (buffet) and the sit-down restaurant. 
  • The cafeteria includes a lot of fruit and egg options. 
  • The sit-down restaurant usually includes fruit plates and omelettes.
Lunch
  • Lunch is served in both the cafeteria and sit-down restaurant. 
  • The cafeteria is usually easier to navigate for low-point offerings because you can control portions, and focus on vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. 
Dinner
  • Dinner is served in both the cafeteria and sit-down restaurant. 
  • The cafeteria is usually easier to navigate for low-point offerings because you can control portions, and focus on vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. 
  • Most people want to have dinner at the sit-down restaurant because it is a multi-course meal, usually fancier, and often seatted with other cruise guests. 
  • My tips for dinner is:
    (1) Pre-eat zero-point vegetables at the cafeteria if you need to, or eat low-point food at the cafeteria for a late night snack if you exercised portion control at dinner and are still hungry.
    (2) there is usually a lean protein dish offered (like chicken breast with steamed vegetables) at the restaurant menu, with a appetizer salad or broth soup, and a fruit plate for dessert.
  • You can ask your waiter to customize your dishes for things you don't want. 
  • Do not even think about eating the dinner rolls - they aren't that good and not worth the points.  
Specialty Restaurants
  • Cruise ships have specialty restaurants where you pay an additional fee for a formal; sit-down multi-course meal. These are often ethnic foods (Asian, Latin, etc.).  You can decide if they are worth the price and points, I think it is good to splurge once on a cruise to experience the specialty restaurants, but going for every dinner will not be point-friendly. 
  • Before you spend money (and calories/points) at a specialty restaurant, look at the menu and decide if this is really worth it. You may find that you have similar restaurants at home, and the restaurant on the ship is not really that special.
  • Most cruise ships have less formal specialty restaurants, like a hamburger and hot dog stand, or ice cream parlor.  You have access to these at home, there is no reason to indulge in this (unhealthy) food on vacation.
Snacks & Desserts
  • Fresh fruit is always available as a dessert option. Go for that, unless you pick one dessert to indulge in once. And then as yourself if it was worth it (the answer may be yes!).
Drinks
  • Water, tea, and coffee is free on ships. Soda and alcohol costs money. You can buy an unlimited soda plan for a fixed price. Consider using the cruise as an opportunity to break soda habits and abstain. 

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