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How to not overeat on your cruise


While the food is often one of the most anticipated aspects of a cruise, you don't have to eat until you feel ill. I'm for all indulging on vacation; however, balancing enjoyment with moderation is important. 

Some of the newest ships at sea have more dining options onboard than before. Icon of the Seas, for example, has 27 different venues to choose from, ranging from the fast-casual El Loco Fresh to the opulent Empire Supper Club.

Similarly, Carnival Celebration is home to Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse, BlueIguana Cantina, Guy's Burger Joint, Big Chicken, Street Eats, ChiBang, and more—all included in the cost of your cruise. 


While many cruisers joke about gaining weight onboard, it's possible to enjoy an array of culinary delights without overindulging. 

Read more: 10 things you should never do at a cruise ship buffet

Place an emphasis on trying new dishes


From chicken tenders to burgers, salads, hot dogs, and pasta, plenty of familiar favorites are found onboard. However, there's value in trying new things, especially when it's "free." 

In 2022, I took one of my close friends and her boyfriend on their first cruise onboard Allure of the Seas. Her boyfriend was determined to try escargot at dinner and earned himself the name "snail boy" for the rest of the trip. Similarly, my dad and I ate at Wonderland on Quantum of the Seas and tried tomato water, which was interesting, to say the least. 

There's comfort in knowing that if you don't like what you ordered, you can ask for something else without being charged extra! It's a luxury not typically available at land-based restaurants unless you're at an all-you-can-eat buffet. 

Read more: I take over 10 cruises a year as a cruise reporter. I always book a specialty restaurant

Grab a small plate at the buffet


According to Stanford University, when people use smaller dinnerwear, they eat less food. If you head into the ship's buffet and grab the largest plate, you'll likely fill it up with more than you need to fill satisfied. 

It's also a smart practice to evaluate your options before you make any decisions. At first glance, you may want one of the tasty-looking pasta dishes; however, after taking a lap—or two—around the buffet, you could change your mind. 

Aimlessly piling your plate can lead to overconsumption, but it can also contribute to food waste. 

Read more: Here's what you should do with your dirty buffet plates

Avoid the buffet


Sometimes, saying no to all the delicious options in the buffet is hard. If you don't think you can exercise restraint, avoiding the buffet is an easy way to ensure you do not overindulge. 

From fast-casual poolside joints to table service in the Main Dining Room, you can rest assured knowing you'll remain happy and fed, even if you don't step foot in the buffet. 

You can also limit how many times you'll visit the buffet during your cruise. Let's say you're going on a weeklong sailing. Instead of going to the buffet every morning for breakfast, cap yourself at just two or three trips. 

Hit the gym or running track


Working out isn't the most exciting activity on vacation, but it is necessary for those who have fitness goals they're trying to achieve. Whether you enjoy running on the treadmill or prefer low-impact exercise on elliptical machines, the unique sea views make visiting the ship's fitness center more inviting than your local gym. 

Even better, take a few laps on the outdoor running track. Not only will you take in the amazing views, but you'll also feel the sea breeze as you work off some of the vacation's calories. 

If you need more motivation, sign up for one of the fitness classes. Though they often cost extra, they offer structured workouts led by professional instructors. Some ships even have personal training services! 

Read more: 10 tips to make your next cruise healthier

Steer clear of sugary beverages


I love a good Piña Colada or Miami Vice as much as the next person, but sugary drinks are not the healthiest choice. While nobody is stopping you from enjoying a tropical cocktail during sail away, they pack a lot of calories and sugar without providing much nutritional value, so it's best to enjoy them occasionally. 

Abbey Sharp, a dietitian and founder of Abbey’s Kitchen, says that some cocktails have upwards of 400 calories, as reported by To lower your calorie count, aim for drinks with the fewest amount of ingredients, such as a glass of sparkling wine, Prosecco, or champagne. Light beer and hard seltzers are good options, too, as they have around 100 calories per serving. 

Moreover, sugary drinks are proven to contribute to worsened hangovers and added dehydration, according to a study released by the National Library of Medicine. The less you drink, the less likely you are to crave a late-night slice of pizza, too. 

Focus on protein and other filling foods 


Eating foods that satisfy hunger helps control calorie consumption, as you won't need to snack throughout the day. 

An article released by MedicalNewsToday reveals seven of the most filling foods, including boiled or baked potatoes, pulses (i.e., beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils), high-fiber foods (i.e., barley, oats, rye, whole-wheat bread, legumes, carrots, beetroot, bananas, and oranges), eggs, nuts, and lean meat and fish. 

While it's okay to crave a sweet treat, especially on vacation, don't overdo it, as you won't feel satisfied after the meal. Balancing indulgence with nutritious choices helps to maintain energy levels and avoid overeating. 

Read more: 5 foods not to eat on a cruise

Just because you can order two entrées doesn't mean you have to


It's easy to eat more than at home while on a cruise. Unlike traditional restaurants on land, you do not have to worry about ordering certain dishes to stick within your budget. Instead, multiple appetizers, entrées, and desserts are included, even in the Main Dining Room!

Just because you can, however, does not mean that you should. In fact, you do not have to order three courses nightly! Sometimes, I'm not in the mood for a full entrée, so I'll order two appetizers and a dessert. 

The key to indulgence is understanding your limits. Feeling like you have to order more than you want to get your money's worth is different than ordering an extra appetizer because it sounds delicious and is something you want to try. 

Read more: What the Food Was Like on Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Reflection

Skip the bread


Regardless of whether you're sailing with Carnival, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, etc. when you sit down for dinner in the Main Dining Room, your meal will begin with unlimited bread service. 

Warm rolls and butter are hard to resist, especially if you're starving after a long day ashore. However, instead of filling up with the first thing available, ask your wait staff not to bring bread. 

That way, you can enjoy your meal knowing you didn't consume a couple hundred calories of bread before your appetizer arrived! 

Read more: 11 foods you must eat on a Carnival cruise

Share desserts


Rather than enjoying sweet treats throughout the day, be selective about when and what you indulge in. Avoiding the dessert station in the buffet during lunch is smart, as you can splurge on the extra calories during dinner on one of the higher-quality treats served in the dining room. 

Sharing desserts with someone is a good compromise. You can enjoy a taste of whatever looks appealing without overindulging. Plus, you can sample different options without feeling obligated to finish an entire dessert.

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