All you ever hear from people is how much weight they gained during their cruise. “The food was so good,” they groan. They ate like crazy and now they have to diet.

Well, I’m here to report that I went on a cruise and lost weight. Hah!

Of course, just like everyone, I went crazy on the first day. New, pretty food that I didn’t have to cook or clean up… the novelty of it all took me unprepared.

There was early breakfast, regular breakfast, teatime and cocktails before lunch. Although I never drink cocktails before lunch, there I was, following the herd mentality. After lunch came teatime, happy hour with serious appetizers and then the day’s glamour meal, dinner, followed by more cocktails.

After my first day I realized I couldn’t possibly keep this up for a week. What was going on here? I never ate this much at home, so why should I eat so much here?

I started watching people eat and was surprised by my observations. They ate every meal as if they were starving. They weren’t.

They ate as if it would be their last meal while in truth, there would be another one in a few hours. They wanted to get their money’s worth, this was “all inclusive,” right? Then the famous, “this is a vacation, we want to party.”

Once I saw this behavior and understood where it was rooted, I became better aware of my own behavior. Now I could analyze my needs and likes and change my conduct accordingly.

You Don’t Have to Clean Your Plate

Once I started to really pay attention to the food, I realized one of the reasons it tasted so good was that it was laced with cream and butter. Those two ingredients make our taste buds go wild.

I realized that afterwards I didn’t feel so good; I felt sick. I started asking for no sauces, or the sauces and dressings on the side. No whipped cream on the desserts.

On another note, you don’t have to eat everything on your plate. Just because the food is there, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Again, I listened to my body and stopped when I’d had enough.

My Real Desires

I love breakfast; it’s my favorite meal. The ship’s breakfast was the best meal of the day, because it was classic: eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, pastries, juices, fruits. A kitchen usually doesn’t botch breakfast. So it quickly became clear to me that I would be eating breakfast.

After my morning activities, I liked eating a light lunch. I skipped the pre-lunch cocktail hour or drank a seltzer to socialize.

By cocktail time, after all our afternoon activities, everyone was starving. So I came to like having pre dinner cocktail time with nibbles.

The appetizers at happy hour were beguiling and lethal, filled with sodium and yes, cream and mayonnaise — artichoke dip, crab dip — just what you want to soak up all the alcohol you are drinking. I stuck to the cheese plate and a few chips, and was satisfied.

I found that when I had dinner after that, I felt overstuffed and yes, unhappy.

No Dinner for Me

I decided to skip dinner. At first I worried about appearing unsociable because dinner is the most social event of a cruise. It’s when people wind down – from being relaxed, haha! – socialize and recount what they did that day.

It was about wine and lingering. But guess what? No one even missed me. I joined into the after dinner activities and enjoyed a cup of tea.

Is the Food Really That Good?

I am a foodie and a gourmet home cook. I eat really good food – whether it’s in my home, a starred restaurant or a neighborhood food cart. When I took the time to analyze the food on the ship, I realized it was good, but not super great.

The dishes were filled with butter and cream sauces. There was a lot of starch and always a variety of tempting breads, muffins, pastries and cakes.

But the meals were plated so beautifully that people automatically decided they were amazing. Moreover, they felt they had to take advantage of these ‘gourmet’ meals because they had paid for them.

Eat in Your Style and Enjoy the Cruise Even More

Be mindful. Focus on the quality, not on the quantity. Go on a cruise like a privileged, picky guest. Eat exactly what pleases you, when you are hungry. You will feel happy and thrilled with your choices and not castigate yourself afterwards. You’ll have more energy and enjoy yourself more.

Take the Stairs and Play a Lot

There’s an abundance of stairs on ships, and I burned a lot of calories by taking the stairs. I also participated in tons of activities. It was an effortless and fun way to be active. When I came home and went to the doctor, he announced I had lost five kilos since my last visit three months ago. Yass!

Do you put on weight when you travel? Do you have any tricks or techniques to help you not pile on the pounds? We’re all ears. Talk to us in the comments box below!

Liza DunkelElizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who has lived in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 25 years. She is the Creative Director of Camp Liza www.campliza.com, a personal blog about stylish and creative living. “A thoughtful life is a luxe life.” Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She discovered a second career as a CELTA certified teacher of ESL and is Merida’s first, only and best college coach www.superenglishmerida.com.

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