Going on a Cruise? Tips to Enjoy the Ship + Stay on Track

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.

Ah, cruising — there’s nothing like the feeling of relaxing on a ship offering just about anything you could want to do on and off-site. But even so, if you've had weight loss surgery, approaches to your diet and exercise will be a bit different when away from home, much less on a ship where you only have access to what they provide. Much like any other vacation, your routine goes out the window, and you begin making decisions that might not align with what you’ve been working hard at. Don't worry! We have some creative ways to stay on top of your health goals before you embark! In this blog post, we'll discuss how to maintain your progress after WLS while getting away from home. It's time to kick back and relax while ensuring all those hard-earned pounds lost stay away!

1) Make sure the timing is right. Before setting sail on your grand voyage, getting medical clearance is a must. Your recovery from surgery should be a priority, and travel can certainly disrupt that process — which is why I (personally) advise waiting at least three months following the procedure before taking off in unfamiliar waters with unpredictable food options. Immediately after surgery, you'll have post-op diet guidelines to follow, so stick to those guidelines for the best results! Rule of thumb: Hold off a little longer if you don’t feel comfortable going.

2) Be mindful of what you eat and drink. There are a few different options when it comes time to choose healthy foods. Most people vilify the buffet, but you can find plenty of healthy options that are protein-rich and full of fiber. Before you go, make sure you know what foods are high in protein and which have fiber. These are things to be generally aware of anyway. Lean proteins like fish, chicken, eggs, and yogurts are excellent protein choices. Of course, fresh fruits and veggies are smart options for carb energy and sources of fiber to keep things moving with digestion. If you choose the dining room for meals, don’t be afraid to ask what ingredients are used and how foods are prepared. If you need foods prepared cooked to order, request it.

3) Avoid empty calories... Like alcohol. I know – vacations often seem to equate to a little umbrella drink in hand. But aim to be mindful of empty calories from alcohol. If you do care to indulge, avoid sugary drinks, drink slowly, and take sips of water in between. Additionally, have a water and meal before your next drink. You won’t tolerate alcohol like you did before surgery so it’s important you keep this in mind. Lastly, don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach! If you’re within 6 months post-op, you will need to avoid alcohol altogether.

4) Keep moving. One of the best ways to stay on track after WLS is to keep moving. Yes, even on vacation! Don’t use vacation as an excuse to totally check out with life. This can hurt you in the long run, especially if you’re used to exercising and moving regularly at home. Stay in the groove! Most cruise ships have gyms, pools, and other facilities that you can use to stay active. Look into whether your ship offers fitness classes like yoga, so you can get some zen time in if you need that daily (I know I do!). Taking advantage of these amenities will help you burn calories and maintain your weight loss and sanity.

5) Stick to a regimen. Remember your well-deserved daily routine even when you're livin' it up on that cruise. Get your exercise checked off your list. Set those protein and fluid goals and be mindful of how you’ll meet them. And let’s not forget about your vitamins! Place them in a location where you’ll see them every morning or evening before bed, or carry them with you while out exploring. Staying consistent can help keep everything in check, so you still feel like yourself even while away from home base.

Cruising offers a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from the everyday hectic life and reconnect with yourself. Whether you’re the type that likes to just relax and take each day as it comes, or get up at 6am every morning for yoga, cruising can offer something enjoyable and unique that enriches your life. But don’t sink your own ship! Make use of the resources available on-board, like excursions and activities that are offered. Staying on track while cruising is all about time management, prioritizing meals and snacks, making sure your calorie intake is beneficial to your long-term goals, getting plenty of exercise in, and having a solid plan in place that works for you!

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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