How to Eat Right ... on a Cruise?
By Joan Kent, PhD
As a nutritionist, I find that my food is under scrutiny all the time. Recently, I attended a weeklong seminar – on a cruise ship. It had nothing to do with nutrition, but my food was still scrutinized.
Every morning started with a different fitness activity. The fitness instructor followed that with breakfast guidelines, recommending that we eat only fruit "because it's easy to digest."
Well, I know better than to start my day with a plateful of sugar, so I went to the buffet and put together a meal that was appropriate for me.
Because this will be relevant in a moment, here was my breakfast: spinach, raw walnuts, and a poached egg. The buffet didn't have poached eggs alone; they were part of the Eggs Benedict. But I eat around unwanted foods, so I ate the egg and left the English muffin and Canadian bacon on my plate. No sauce.
A woman in the seminar approached my table and said I wasn't complying with the fitness instructor's guidelines. She pointed her finger at each item on my plate, one at a time, and criticized it. This happened while I was still eating my meal.
If you're thinking it was inappropriate for her to do that, I agree. But I explained my resistance to the instructions to start the day with sugar.
What Can We Take From This? (First, don't criticize other people's food while they're eating!)
• Know your nutrition needs. They may be different from your likes. Know what you need to thrive and feel good. Seek out those foods, no matter what.
• Don't let other people's guidelines steer you away from the foods you know are best for you. The myth that fruit is healthful persists. Many people still have no idea that fructose – the sugar in fruit – is arguably the most unhealthful sugar. And a plateful is a bad start to the day. Stay with what works for you, no matter what.
• Navigate a buffet carefully to find what you need, especially vegetables. I found the spinach for my breakfast at the omelet station. Diced tomatoes and mushrooms were there, as well. If there are no salads, a burrito station can provide lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and more. You get the idea. Find vegetables, no matter what.
• Learn how to find what you need on a restaurant menu. Friends laugh at me because my meals "always look the same." And they do: protein, vegetables, complex starch, healthful fat. Do I care if my friends laugh? Absolutely not. I've learned to create the meal I need, no matter what.
For example, I've ordered two salads for my main course when the menu offered nothing better. In the southern U.S., I've ordered fried chicken and scraped off the breading with my fork. Keep your needs in mind and forget the rest – including the House Specialty! It's frequently a high-fat, high-sugar, sauce-laden extravaganza that might make you feel ill afterward.
• Pay attention to how you feel after a meal – good or bad. If everyone else felt good after a meal but you didn't, that food wasn't for you. If you felt great, try to duplicate that meal as closely as possible at other times and places. Listen to your body, no matter what.
• Remember your protein needs above all. The fitness instructor told us protein is "overrated" – but he knew nothing about foods and brain chemistry.
If you're a recovered sugar addict (like me) who tries to stay away from sugar, protein is key. It will help you survive and thrive, whether you're giving up sugar now or living without it. If you need to carry envelopes of protein powder with you, do it. I've done that many times. Get your protein, no matter what.
• Don't worry about the opinions of others. You deserve to eat right and feel good. No matter what!
Keeping your meals on track when you travel isn't always easy, but I'm dedicated to – and passionate about – helping you do that. A little advance planning and a few easy tips can work wonders. Grab your free Empowered Eating Consult when you visit www.LastResortNutrition.com .
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.