Cruising while Dieting?

Weight Watchers @ Sea

In addition to the many other roles I play in my life, I am also a Weight Watcher leader.  I lost 53 pounds in 2000 to become a lifetimeIMG_0531 Weight Watcher member, and my plan is to maintain my healthy weight for the rest of my life.  Weight Watcher members often ask me for tips to stay on course with their weight loss during their vacation.  My tips always include drink at least 6 – 8 oz. glasses of water every day, smile as you tell your servers “the food is fine, I’m just full, really!”, push back an elbow’s length from the table when you’re satisfied, have a couple bites of dessert, and always take the stairs instead of the elevators.  So, I was really excited to see Weight Watchers publish their own tips for staying healthy on a cruise on their website.  I’ve attached the article here for you to read.  The authors are Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, and you can find this article entitled, “Don’t Let an Ocean Liner Sink Your Healthy Lifestyle”, at

We’re all about choices. So a cruise vacation might seem to be the best expression of our style. Indeed, on a recent Mediterranean cruise we experienced firsthand what it’s like to eat well (and healthily) on a luxury liner.
Our choices were endless: 24 hours a day, in multiple restaurants plus room service. Turns out, we found plenty of good possibilities and developed foolproof strategies for enjoying great food without losing sight of our healthy eating habits. Here’s what we discovered:
1. Ask for what you want.
Cruise ships are known for service. Take advantage of that. In the main dining room, have your courses the way you like them—even out of order. An appetizer of grilled pineapple spears makes a better dessert anyway.
Or maybe none of the entrées suits your fancy, so order several appetizers: the chilled cucumber soup, the shrimp cocktail and the melon balls in poppy seed dressing. On our cruise, we asked for the split king crab legs appetizer in a double portion as our entrée.
Our buffet’s wok station offered two dishes each day. We chose neither. Instead, we asked for a fresh vegetable stir-fry. Remember, the set dishes are simply a guide. Go from there and build your own meal.
In the main dining room, think ahead. If you ask a day in advance, you can get almost anything you want: a piece of grilled fish, steamed vegetables or even broiled lobster tails. We discovered there were East Indian and Filipino chefs in the kitchen on our ship. On two nights, we asked our steward to skip the big menu, and we had special East Indian and Filipino dinners prepared for us, far lighter fare and very tasty. The fiery Biryani was out of our dreams.
2. Meet the maitre d’ and the dining stewards.
Introduce yourself. The friendlier you are, the more likely you can get what you want. The maitre d’ controls the dining room’s flow; he can also place special orders. Your table steward will soon learn what you want and how you like it.
Remember this: It’s much easier to get what you want if you’ve built a relationship first. We would never have gotten those Indian and Filipino specialties if we hadn’t gotten friendly with the staff.
3. Practice portion control.
The buffet’s carving station is a great choice for lunch. Whether pork, turkey, lamb or beef, ask the chef to trim the fat and give you a thin slice or two. Skip the buttery gravies and sides and head for the salad bar for fresh vegetables and fat-free salad dressings (which make excellent dips for roasted meat, by the way).
If you have a cocktail, you’ll be offered freebies: nuts, cheese and salmon puffs. Skip them; they’re not worth the POINTS® values. If you’d like a snack with your drink, head first to the buffet and grab a plate of celery sticks and cherry tomatoes.
4. Eat at regular hours.
Food is available 24 hours a day, but you needn’t eat day and night. Besides, the best food is available at meal times. Most of the between-meal offerings are not worth the POINTS values: Cold omelets, fatty burgers and soggy tacos.
Skip the midnight buffet. If you don’t eat lukewarm banana fritters and greasy meatballs at midnight at home, don’t eat them on board. Instead, go dancing, work up a good pulse rate and indulge in a glass of champagne.
Avoid room service, too. It’s just an excuse to eat congealed food with limited choices. Better to show up at a gala dinner hungry so you can relish every bite.  That said, room service will be happy to keep a bowl of fresh fruit in your room if you ask for it.
The same goes for the dining room. Read the menu fully. Don’t be tempted by the titles. Look at what’s on the whole plate then make your selection. Or make a hybrid selection. One night, we asked for the prime rib with the grilled asparagus off the fish plate and the roasted tomato off the vegetarian entrée.
5. Look at everything before choosing.
If you choose the buffet instead of the dining room, do a full reconnaissance of the stations before deciding. You’ll be less likely to fill up on macaroni and cheese before spying the grilled salmon sandwich that you really wanted.
The same goes for the gala dessert buffet, usually served poolside and the biggest splurge on the cruise. We skipped the cream puffs and petit fours and went straight for the chocolate-dipped strawberries and marzipan pieces that decorated the serving platters. But we knew our choices because we’d made a complete promenade around the desserts. We felt free to indulge, knowing we had made the best choices, and knowing that even the gala dessert buffet was not going to sink our lifestyles.
Article By: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
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