Vacation is finally here. You have spent the past few months working, planning, and organizing your cruise vacation, and now it’s time to celebrate. Something else to celebrate is your good health. It is easy to fall off the deep end — no pun intended — when you go on vacation. There are so many temptations that make it easy to give in.
For cruise vacations, you may need to worry about more than just your waistline. Although guidelines for food safety are very strict for cruise lines, always proceed with caution. I spoke with Vandana Sheth, registered dietitian, nutritionist, certified diabetes educator, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, about maintaining a healthy lifestyle while floating along.
“I believe in the 80 to 20 rule of living,” Sheth says. “If you make healthy choices 80 percent of the time and allow for indulgences 20 percent of the time, you can enjoy life and achieve a healthy lifestyle. It's important to remember that just because you are on a cruise does not mean that your healthy-eating habits take a vacation.”
Food awareness is key for avoid gaining weight on a cruise. If the cruise provides a buffet, assess all of the options and create portions that support a balanced meal, Sheth suggests. Indulging is part of a vacation experience, but only after you fuel your body with nutritious meals.
Although your living space is limited on a boat, it is important to also stay physically active. “Use the gym, swimming pool, take the stairs, go for brisk walks on the deck, [and] select physically active shore excursions,” Sheth recommends.
Beyond calories and fear of weight gain, food safety can also be a concern. We compiled a list of foods you may want to avoid on your cruise. Not all of the foods are harmful, but they can be if they are not processed or cooked under regulations.
Despite the strict food safety policies for cruise lines, mistakes can be made, and your meat may not be fully cooked. The “danger zone” for meat, or temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F, is where bacteria multiply. If the meat is not fully cooked, the bacteria may not be fully destroyed, so it may be in your best interest to avoid beef on a cruise.
Although condiments contain processed ingredients, if the ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise looks like it has been sitting out for a couple hours, you want to avoid it. Lack of refrigeration and warm temperatures cause bacteria to form. Sheth recommends watching how many condiments you consume for calorie purposes, too. Many contain added sugar and unwanted calories.