How to Avoid Weight Gain on a Cruise
HealthCentral Editorial Team Mar 29, 2012 (updated Sep 28, 2013)
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Cruises are notorious for an abundance of food, so here are some tips to avoid weight gain and hyper/hypoglycemia (in people with and without diabetes).
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Know how to tackle the buffets
Buffets are very common on cruises and are a dangerous food trap for unsuspecting patrons. Walk around the tables to see what is there first; often the best quality choices are not as easily accessible. When you have filled your plate, eat as far away from the buffet as possible so you will be less inclined to get up for seconds or thirds.
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Make smart food choices
With so much food at your fingertips on a cruise, it is important to make wise decisions about what you are eating. Try the fruit choices or see if you can fill your plate up with vegetables. Take advantage of fresh fish, especially salmon, or other local cuisine. While salad is a healthy option, it is the dressings that can be loaded with calories, so try to keep the salad dressing on the side.
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When the cruise package says "all you can eat" it is hard not to take it literally. When going through a buffet, use the smallest plate available. If you are ordering food, get only one appetizer, main course or dessert. Another option is to have a small taste of several things, rather than eating them all. It can be difficult to resist temptation, but self restraint is necessary to avoid weight gain.
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Manage alcohol consumption
Mixed drinks and beer often contain large amounts of carbohydrates. Simple carbs are stored in body fat and raise insulin levels, which lead to weight gain. They also leave you feeling hungry a short while later, prompting you to drink and eat more. Intoxication can be confused with hypoglycemia so it is important to eat if you are drinking alcohol.
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Take the time to walk and exercise
Try walking every day on the cruise. When you are at sea, take advantage of the gym on board or stroll around the deck. You should also take the stairs when possible. Swimming is another great way to exercise, especially if you don't want to put much pressure on your joints.
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Play games on board
Play games that involve moving. Often cruises hold tournaments for passengers in activities ranging from ping pong to 3 on 3 basketball. These are great ways to be active and meet other people with similar interests!
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Be active at your destinations
Be adventurous and go on the active excursions offered in the ports. Some options may be snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, climbing or fishing. You will have fun and get some exercise at the same time!
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Monitor blood sugar closely
If you are on an insulin pump, use the combo/extended bolus feature as much as possible. If you use shots, make sure to bolus before eating, after estimating the amount of carbs on your plate (pumpers will have do the same). Test your blood sugar regularly, at least every 3-4 hours, so you can correct if necessary. This is especially important since it is hard to estimate hidden carbs, and your blood sugar can change depending on your activity.
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Make sure you take all of your medications with you and bring enough diabetes related supplies to last your whole trip. There is a ship doctor on board, but visits and medications are expensive. You want to spend your cruise having fun, not worrying about medicines!