Hi friends! As you know, Matt and I had the pleasure of going on a cruise over New Year’s as part of my partnership with Carnival. I’ll be sharing two health-focused recaps from our cruising adventures. First up is this post about how to eat healthy on a cruise. On Thursday, I’ll share how we stayed active while cruising!
With the exception of a smoothie and an afternoon iced latte, we ate all of our meals/snacks on board the cruise ship. Cruises are often known for decadence when it comes to food – it’s available all day, every day, in unlimited portions, and it’s certainly not all healthy. That said, it is possible to eat healthy while on a cruise ship – while still enjoying yourself, too! Here’s how I did it.
Breakfast is not usually a time when I am in the mood to indulge, so I take advantage by keeping breakfast on the healthier side. This doesn’t mean restricting calories or portions – doing that would set you up to fail later on in the day – just that I aim for a good balance of whole grains, protein, and “good fat,” with a focus on real food vs. the more processed or greasy options.
Going with intuitive eating, I mixed things up based on what I was in the mood for each morning.
In general, though, my breakfasts involved a mix of:
- Eggs (scrambled with tomato or hard boiled) or in veggie omelette form
- Oatmeal (with nuts/fruit and/or cottage cheese) or toast
- Fruit (the grapefruit was especially delicious – I don’t eat grapefruit much at home because I’m too lazy to slice it, so I took advantage)
- I also had bacon on the first day for good measure 😉
In the second half of the trip, I discovered this awesome “Norlander” European-style bread. I must try to make this at home – I loved it. I had it with peanut butter a fair amount.
On the days I didn’t have the bread for breakfast, I packed it to have as a late morning or afternoon snack with peanut butter and sometimes banana too.
The inside bag of a cereal box ended up being the perfect size for storing it for later!
I kept lunches healthy-ish for the most part as well, again going by what I was in the mood for though. If I was craving something that wasn’t so healthy, I didn’t deny myself. That always backfires later on!
Carnival had a really nice, big salad bar every day for lunch with a lot of healthy options so all my lunches involved either a big salad as my main dish or a salad as a side to whatever I was more in the mood for.
One day I had a salad with a bean/chicken/veggie burrito:
Another day I was craving a German-style sausage with sauerkraut, so I had that with a big salad:
I also enjoyed pizza once for lunch – they had a really awesome freshly made to order Italian-style (thin crust, super light on the cheese) pizza bar that was open 24/7. I loved their mushroom variety topped with fresh arugula!
Not gonna lie – I definitely enjoyed pizza twice for afternoon snacks! It was so delicious – and again, there’s no need to eat perfectly all the time, especially when you’re on vacation. I ate veggies when I craved them, and pizza when I craved it too.
I also had bread and peanut butter and fresh fruit leftover from breakfast for some snacks, as well as some nuts and dried fruit I brought from home.
One of the keys for intuitive eating is to indulge when it’s worth it – not just because it’s there. For me, afternoon fruity cocktails are totally not worth it – I usually have a few sips before the sweetness starts to make me feel sick. And I don’t love drinking in the afternoon when I’m in the hot sun, either – it doesn’t leave me feeling so great. That said, I did enjoy some Prosecco/wine for happy hour before dinner a few nights once the sun had gone down! It was vacation after all. 🙂
Dinner was the time when I indulged the most – although I still made sure to focus on eating slowly and mindfully, and enjoying what I was having. I also didn’t get dessert every single night just because I could – only when I was really in the mood for it (I think I got it 3 or 4 out of the 7 nights – on the other nights, I had some herbal tea instead). Our favorite was the chocolate melting cake – delicious!
Another key with dinner was staying mindful enough to stop when I was comfortably full, not stuffed. This usually meant not finishing all of my appetizer/meals/dessert. I always prefer to have a lot of tastes of things, so this worked out well while still leaving me satisfied vs. stuffed.
Most of the nights on the ship we dined in the dining room with our good friends Melli and Mortiz. When I was in Switzerland this summer with Melli (my German friend who I met when we were roommates when I was teaching English in Prague, and have stayed in good touch with since), I discovered that she had just booked a cruise with her husband right at the same time that we were looking. I was so excited that we were able to get on the same cruise! Getting to spend time with them was so much fun and such a sweet bonus.
We had a really fun waiter named Rolie from the Philippines who took very good care of us. We were sad to say goodbye to him on the last night! (And yes, my face is bright red – my rosacea does not love the sun like I do.)
One nice thing about the dining room menus was that they had “healthy options” noted with a heart symbol next to them. I ordered a few of those options on nights I was in the mood for something lighter!
The only thing I didn’t love was that the “healthy” dessert options were made with artificial sweeteners – yuck. Real dessert or no dessert, thank you!
My favorite meal in the dining room was the broiled lobster and shrimp they had one night – soooo good.
Although this lamb was a close second:
We also went to the steakhouse (which requires a special booking and an extra fee) for dinner one night, just the two of us – the food was PHENOMENAL. Seriously among the best dinners I’ve had. Fancy and fun atmosphere, too! I had the tuna tartare and the surf and turf – so good. No dessert, just tea for both of us – we were more than satisfied after all this good food!
So – there you have it! I always believe that being healthy means not ALWAYS being healthy, so this post about eating healthy of course needed to include some indulgence, too. I’ll close with a few main takeaways that are applicable not only when on a cruise ship, but in normal life, too:
- Indulge when it’s worth it and you are really in the mood to, not just because you can/it’s there
- Enjoy what you are eating/drinking – savor it and eat/drink slowly
- Pay attention to fullness cues, stopping when you are satisfied, not stuffed
- Load up on veggies when you can
- Don’t feel guilty for indulging if you’ve decided it’s worth it
Have you ever been on a cruise? How did you eat healthy while on the high seas?
This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.