What Is The Average Weight For A 4 7 10-Year-Old Cruising With a Dietitian: How to Avoid Gaining Weight While at Sea

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Cruising With a Dietitian: How to Avoid Gaining Weight While at Sea

My husband and I just returned from a 7 night cruise from Baltimore to the Bahamas on the Carnival Pride. Since we’ve been back, I’ve had several people ask me the million dollar question, “How much weight have you gained?” Since this article is about my experience, I’ll tell you: about 3 pounds. So, let me rephrase my title:

Cruising with a Dietitian – – how to gain “just a little” weight while at sea.

See, not being allowed to gain any weight would be unrealistic and just not any fun! I must admit I am a bit of a foodie and we did indulge in many of the culinary adventures the ship and ports had to offer: The “Chef’s Table” tour of the galley and 7 course tasting menu, a night at “David’s”. “a steakhouse, several servings of molten chocolate cake and a fried, cracked Conch in the Bahamas. I even indulged in a few Pina Coladas while relaxing in the hot tub.

My measly three pounds really don’t count the stats that much. The ship’s gym personal trainer quoted me a figure of 7-14 pounds per cruise. A UK survey published last year by the Daily Mail quotes 1 pound a day. CruiseReview.com found that the average weight on a 7-day cruise varies between 5 to 10 pounds. Judging by some of the eating behaviors I witnessed on the ship, I’d say this might be right for those who really “let go.”

Here are my top 10 tips for keeping weight to a minimum while cruising:

1. Be a “Ficky” Eater. No, I’m not implying that you have to order chicken fingers at every meal like my son does. What I mean by “picky” is in terms of the quality of the food. “Picky” really means two things: 1) not indulging in chicken fingers, mac and cheese, soft serve ice cream, and other things you can easily get while not on vacation. Save your calories for more epicurean adventures. During my cruise, there were quite a few unique options like oysters Rockefeller, escargot and chilled mango soup. 2) “Picky” also means not eating something unless it’s REALLY good. If the fish is dry and cold, do not finish it. If your buffet food tastes bad, let the waiter take it away. If the cake is tasteless, just take 1 bite and stop. Remember: the “clean plates club” is not in session on cruise ships. Clean your plate only if you really enjoy the food and if it is a “4 star” dish.

2. Use the Gym. Not having enough time cannot be used as an excuse while at sea! You should exercise more, not less. Most ships have cardio equipment, free weights and exercise classes. Sign up for a fitness class. My husband and I joined a group bike ride at 4pm one day, which saved us a few hundred calories from afternoon cocktails – – we didn’t indulge in a drink until the class was over. If you don’t fancy the gym, there’s usually an outdoor track for walking/jogging too. Walk the halls and explore every corner of the ship. Take the stairs as much as possible instead of the elevators. Think of the cruise as a “medical vacation”: take care of your body, exercise, use the steam room, indulge in a massage, etc. All these activities are without food.

3. Choose the dining room over the buffet. Yes, you can order anything you want, but you have to wait for the different courses. Slowing down the meal time will decrease the amount you eat. It can take 10-20 minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that it’s full, so having a down time between each course is helpful. As an added bonus, the portions served in the dining room of many cruise ships are small – – just don’t order 2 entrees! For most meals, I ordered a salad, soup, entrée and shared dessert with my husband.

4. “Scout the Buffet Line”. If you must go to the buffet, explore your options. Choose 3-5 items in total that you want to eat the most. Remember that there will be another buffet and more things to try for the next meal. Food researcher Brian Wansink writes in the April 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine: “Thin people are more likely to research the foods. They are more likely to look at the different alternatives before they jump on something – heavy people. just tend to take plate and look at each item and say, “Do I want it? Yes or no.”

5. Eat Dessert Only Once a Day. On cruise ships, desserts are offered 24/7: before breakfast (in the form of sweet rolls), on the menu after brunch, in the lunch buffet, after dinner, 24-hour soft serve ice cream, midnight chocolate buffet, etc. can “have your cake and eat it too” but only once a day. Personally, I didn’t care much for the dry cakes, jelly and soft serve ice cream from the buffet line. I saved my dessert calories for evening desserts in the dining room, which were more decadent and often served warm (molten chocolate cake, bread puddings, creme brulee, etc.). If you have a sweet tooth like me and can’t decide on 1 dessert, share 2 (or 3) with your partner, but only take a few bites of each!

6. Substitute an appetizer for your main meal. On many nights, I found the appetizers far more interesting than the meal options. They usually had 2 interesting soups, salads and small bites to choose from. If you want to order the calorie-dense French onion soup, go for it and pair it with a salad and a small appetizer. 2-3 appetizer servings are most likely lower in calories than an entrée.

7. Limit alcoholic beverages (and stay away from all-you-can-drink packages). Alcohol is the number one source of empty calories for cruisers (a typical Pina Colada is over 600 calories!) Try to prevent alcohol consumption until after 5pm. This will limit calories and also allow you to be more active earlier in the day – who wants to take the stairs or jog around the track after a few beers?!? Believe me; a tall cold beer tastes so much better after a hard workout at the gym. Speaking of my good friend the Pina Colada and other delicious frozen fruit drinks – – try to limit these to 1-2 the entire cruise and stick to dry wine, beer or spirits mixed with water/club soda as they are a fraction of the calories. . Our ship had all you can drink alcohol that cost $49.95 per person per day. Assuming the average drink cost of $7, you would need to have 7 drinks to break even! Drinking less definitely saved us money and calories!!!

8. Transfer the bread basket. Every meal in the dining room was accompanied by a bread basket and a beautiful silver bowl of carved butter. For breakfast, a variety of danish dishes were served before the meal. None of the breads or rolls were anything special. Pass them by! Enough said!

9. Eat only at meal times. Make a package with yourself to eat only at meal times. Our ship had a large enough window for the lunch and dinner buffets as well as 24 hour pizza and soft serve ice cream. Some boats even have late night chocolate buffets. Stay away from the buffet room and hang out somewhere else between meal times.

10. Drink lots of water. Consider drinking 2 glasses of water with each meal and 1 glass of water for each alcoholic drink consumed. This will fill you up, keep you hydrated and help combat the ill effects of too much alcohol. Forcing yourself to drink a glass of water with every alcoholic drink will slow you down from exhausting your calorie total. On most cruises, soft drinks are extra. My advice is not to buy this pack and fill up on water and herbal teas instead. You can get soda everywhere, why would you want to drink your calories – – save them for the good stuff on the cruise. The same rule applies to juices (which are also free) – skip them and opt for fruit instead!

When you get home, don’t weigh yourself for at least 3-4 days. Cruise line food tends to be salty, so give your body a chance to get rid of excess water. I usually find that the post-cruise week is a great time to “get back on the bandwagon” with a healthy eating routine. You may find that your body craves lighter meals as it tries to adjust and cleanse from the previous week. Think of your cruise indulgences as a way to provide momentum for a healthy lifestyle rather than a setback!

There’s an old quote in the cruise industry that says “customers are brought on board as passengers and unloaded a week later as cargo.” Hopefully by following the advice above you can be unloaded as a small “carry-on bag” rather than cargo.

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