How to enjoy a cruise cuisine

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D.

August 2010

It's a rare cruise passenger who doesn't gush over the delicious and plentiful food aboard ship. That's usually followed by a self-deprecating admission that he or she arrived home a few pounds heavier than when the ship set sail. Is it really possible to revel in the cruise cuisine without paying the price in pounds?

It helps to stick to your regular daily routine of three meals a day and small, healthy snacks. Be careful when you visit the midnight buffet. The excuse, of course, is that you want to see the nightly ice sculpture before it melts. That little excursion alone might add a couple of pounds during a 10-day adventure.

Evening dinner is like eating at a restaurant except that your tip-motivated steward has no qualms about providing you with two entrees and at least as many desserts. His or her goal, after all, is to make this a gourmet experience that you will never forget and that will make you a return customer.

The breakfast and lunch buffets are so artfully presented that it's easy to sample every item. I suggest that you do just that: sample. If something really piques your taste buds you can return for a larger portion. It's possible to savor the variety without sacrificing your waistline. If everything tastes irresistibly good you can have larger portions of other items that also appeal to you the following day.

Buffet tables always include tong salads and spoon salads. The former are low in calories as long as you refrain from a hefty pour of salad dressing. The kinds of salads that you serve by the spoonful tend to be high in calories from added oils and mayonnaise.

It's always a challenge to stick to reasonable serving sizes whether at sea or at home. A serving of meat is about the size of your palm minus the fingers; a vegetable or pasta/rice/potato serving should equal your clenched fist. A leafy salad is about the size of two fists. Most ship's dining rooms actually do maintain those guidelines, which makes it so easy to succumb to double desserts.

You can ease your conscience and save your waistline by taking advantage of the ship's fitness center and the measured walking track on the promenade deck.

By following these suggestions you can enjoy all the variety and new culinary experiences that a cruise has to offer. Don't deny yourself — it's a vacation, after all.

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. is the author of Health Secrets of the Stone Age, Better Life Publishers 2005. Contact him at drphil@stoneagedoc.com.