Healthy Eating on Vacation

Cruising is one of my favorite vacations because I can truly disconnect from the world and enjoy my relaxation time on the boat. My biggest problem with going on this type of vacation is the 24-hour food service. I have been on six total cruises. On five of the cruises I went on, I gained over 10lbs on every cruise and the one I went on in February of 2016 I gained 15lbs on a 7-day cruise. In July when I began my lifestyle change, I did not even think of how this would impact my vacations. We went on a 6-day cruise in December and I was still in my weight loss phase of my program. I knew it would be a challenge but I can tell you it’s possible to not gain weight, in fact, I lost a pound and a half and my wife lost 4 pounds on our 6-day cruise. So how did we do it? First and foremost, I knew I had come too far in my weight loss journey to start going backwards now. From July 2016 – December 2016 I had lost almost 80 pounds and my cruise was not worth me messing that up. So, I am going to give you five tips that will help and can apply to any vacation, not just cruising.

    • Walk when you can and avoid elevators. I almost always used the stairs and walked pretty much everywhere we went. I thought this would be tiring but I found since losing all the weight I have already, this was easier than I expected.
    • Stay away from the buffet and use the small plates. Well you might not think this is possible around lunchtime but with healthy living you have to learn to make good choices no matter what. I honestly was not tempted to eat the buffet, burgers or dessert. For lunch, they had a Mongolian grill that I was able to have them cook vegetables with a protein of chicken or shrimp and asked them not to cook it in any sauce. They used a small amount of chicken broth and it was just as filling and delicious as any of the other food we had on previous cruises.
    • Plan ahead. The biggest tip I can give you is to plan ahead with your wait staff. The moment we boarded I went to guest services and explained my dietary needs. They were very accommodating and each night in the main dining room, they had us order for the following nights food so it could be prepared to our liking. This allowed us to get our order in with all our specifications and have it cooked that way the next night.
    • Smaller portions is key. On past cruises I would order 2 appetizers, 2 entree’s and 2 desserts almost every night at dinner. I would justify it with, “its all included so why not?” Pick the smallest portion sizes you can when ordering off the menu and ask for the vegetables you want. When they had potatoes as a side, I would substitute for broccoli or a salad. Again, the staff was very accommodating to our needs.
    • What about dessert? So I have primarily stayed away from dessert almost entirely since July so on vacation I wanted to indulge in a dessert but one that also fit my weight loss program. I told the wait staff what I was trying to accomplish and they said they could make a gluten free / sugar free molten chocolate cake. I asked to see the recipe which they did have the chef bring to our table one night. I could not have the eggs, butter, and rice flour so I asked for a molten chocolate cake with no sugar, dairy, or carbs. I figured they would laugh at me and say it was impossible but the chef made a phenomenal molten chocolate cake made with only 1 single ingredient, semi-sweet chocolate. It is not something I would have all the time but it was a nice treat to have on our vacation and in moderation was an awesome dessert that kept me on my weight loss journey.

Those are my top 5 tips for how to eat practically anywhere and still accomplish your goals. Below, I have included pictures of most things I ate with a caption explaining each item.

This was the first day when I was figuring out what to get. I did the buffet on this day. Got a small plate, salad, grilled vegetables and a small slice of lunch meat.

Main Dining Room – I ordered a side salad, got the dressing on the side and added very little, also ordered with no croutons. (Side note, they actually made me a cheese crouton by shaving cheese very thin and baking it.  You can see them at the top right of the salad.)

Main Dining Room – Chicken breast cooked “dry” (no sauce) with a side of broccoli.

Lunch – Mongolian Grill cooked in no sauce. Protein was mussels and chicken.

Main Dining Room – Shrimp cocktail appetizer, sauce on side, only ate shrimp.

Main Dining Room – Lobster tail with shrimp and a side of broccoli. (comes with butter, DO NOT USE)

Main Dining Room – Fish (cooked dry) with a side of broccoli.

This was the fish and how it was normally served with the sauce. I asked for it without the sauce as shown above.

Lunch – Mongolian Grill vegetables and salmon as protein.

Main Dining Room – Lamb chop cooked “dry” with cauliflower and broccoli.

This was a dish we had on a shore excursion in Cozumel; Had them cook the fish “dry” and did not eat rice or potatoes.

Main Dining Room – 4oz steak with green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower.

A healthy breakfast on board is a vegetable egg white omelet and a side of turkey bacon with a grilled tomato at the top of the dish.

Main Dining Room – Dessert: Single ingredient Molten Chocolate Cake – Only ingredient semi-sweet chocolate.

Paul Mancuso is a guest blogger and coach for YourLifeRestored.  He lives in Lafayette, LA with his wife Misty and two boys Landon and Greyson.  He is active in his community and runs his own computer business called Computer F/x and serves on the board for Church Media Central.  You can connect with him using the following links.

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