Last updated on August 11th, 2018 at 10:03 am
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21.6 million people go on cruises each year and out of these, 60% are from North America. Sadly, too many people associate cruises with overspending on budget and over-eating, but it doesn’t have to be this way!
Just as families can enjoy a cruise without breaking the bank, you don’t need to assume that going on a cruise will mean having to compromise on good eating habits and overall health.
Think health, think hygiene
Anyone who has previously cruised on Royal Caribbean will hear the words “washy washy” and immediately have fond memories of dinnertime on the ship. Before entering the dining room on all their ships, a staff person will be stationed near the hand sanitizer stations, reminding guests to wash their hands before dinner. The staff person kindly states “washy washy” as you walk by – and out of courtesy or guilt, you take a squirt of hand sanitizer.
Maintaining a clean environment on a ship requires both passengers and staff to do their part. On cruise ships, cleanliness is next to godliness!
Being healthy also means eating in a hygienic environment. Keeping dining rooms clean and regular restaurant cleaning of the ships other dining venues is a top priority for cruise lines to eliminate foodborne illness.
An outbreak of Norovirus on a cruise can wreak havoc and ruin a vacation for thousands, making cleanliness a top priority for all cruise lines.
There are signs to look out for when it comes to a clean eating area. These include the state of the floors, walls, and ceilings.
For example, do you notice any signs of flood damage, such as cracked walls, mold or doors that do not fit their frames properly when closed? How clean do the serving stands (such as the buffet tables) look to you? Being mindful of these sorts of things will make it less likely that your food is contaminated, causing you to become ill. Pay attention to the presentation and cleanliness of the restaurant staff too. Their standards of hygiene will obviously have an impact on how hygienic the food is when it reaches you.
Eat from smaller plates
A big part of the problem when it comes to overeating may lie in the physical size of the plate. Researchers recently reported that smaller plates may cut calorie consumption by 16%. Meanwhile, a recent study showed the effects of using a smaller spoon for ice cream: participants served themselves 14.5% less than when offered a larger spoon. Using smaller plates and cutlery may help you keep your (and your children’s, if applicable) waistlines in good order – particularly given the number of days you need to resist the temptation to overindulge.
Eat strategically at the buffet or avoid it altogether
Along with the size of plates and cutlery used, researchers from Cornell University have discovered a link between the patterns of behavior by people eating from a buffet and the amount they eat. For example, those who scoured the whole buffet first, before eating from it, ate more than those who started serving themselves without checking everything that was on offer beforehand. If you think you do not have the self-restraint to keep piling up your plate, choose somewhere else to eat.
Eat your dinner early
One effective way of being healthy on holiday is to eat your dinner early. Eating 3-4 hours before you go to sleep allows your body to digest your food fully, helping you sleep better and feel more refreshed when you wake.
If you eat too late, the digestion process is hampered and you are more likely to have gas pain, be unable to sleep well and wake up feeling sluggish the next day. Instead of booking the 8PM dining option, consider booking the earlier option to give your body time to digest the food before bedtime.
Make breakfast a priority
There is a reason why breakfast is often regarded as the most important meal of the day. A wholesome breakfast sets you up for the day, kicking your metabolism into gear and giving you the energy needed for the rest of the day. A nutritious breakfast also replenishes your blood sugar levels, which are at their lowest first thing in the morning. What is more, if you eat dinner early as previously recommended, you will have a good appetite when you wake, which you can make the most of by eating a hearty, healthy breakfast.
The options on a cruise are obviously plentiful. Cafe’s, the main dining room, the buffet, roomservice – but watch what you order. Avoid sugary cereals and fried foods and opt for things like granolas, fruits, poached eggs and wholegrain breads.
Drink lots of water
There is divided opinion among health professionals about exactly how much water we should be drinking each day. This certainly depends on the age, gender and build of the individual (things like exercise and breastfeeding also increase the necessary intake of water). However, it is fair to say that the majority of Americans struggle to consume the 6-8 eight oz glasses, which is what most health authorities recommend.
Among other things, being dehydrated causes us to feel tired and sluggish, sometimes making our brain think that we need food to give us energy, when in fact we need water. Water naturally flushes out toxins in our body and makes us feel more hydrated. As a result, we feel more balanced and energized and are less likely to overeat.
With this in mind, make sure you have a bottle of water on you wherever you go on the cruise, and encourage your children to do the same. Shortly before any meal time, try to drink a glass of water. This will help prevent you from overindulging, particularly in unhealthy foods or drinks.
Make use of the fitness facilities
Every ship on every major cruise line is equipped with some type of fitness facility, complete with treadmills, exercise bikes and organized classes. If your regular routine at home includes the gym, why not keep the routine while you’re on the ship? Just 45 minutes of exercise in the morning will keep the routine alive and keep.
Beyond the fitness or exercise areas, there are activities on the ship that will certainly give you a good workout. Many ships have a jogging/walking track outside, as well as tennis courts, swimming pools and rock climbing walls.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle on a cruise is possible!
Cruises have gained something of a bad rep when it comes to being healthy on holiday. Given the raft of food and drink on offer, along with the fact that you are on a boat for quite a long time, it is arguably unsurprising. However, by taking some small, strategic approaches to meal locations and mealtimes, it is very possible to have a happy, healthy holiday on a cruise.