The excitement and novelty of being on a cruise can tempt you to abandon your regular healthy habits. Between the rich food and the exotic port cities, it’s easy to make excuses to indulge. Keep yourself on track and stay healthy with these five tips.

Get Familiar with Food Choices

Before taking your first bite at any meal, peruse the buffet offerings or read the whole menu to decide what sounds best to you. Choose only what you want so that you enjoy what you eat and don’t feel like you have to order more to be satisfied. If there’s a “spa” menu available, check there for lighter options. It’s okay to have a few rich treats over the course of the cruise, but you want to avoid loading up every meal with foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

Practice Portion Control

Using small plates at the buffet and requesting half portions in the dining room can help you avoid overeating on a cruise. Ask that sauces and dressings be served on the side to give yourself more control over calorie intake. One of the best ways to reduce overall consumption is to start every meal with a large green salad. If you’re craving a snack, satisfy your hunger with fresh fruit and vegetables. Whenever you eat, do so slowly to give your body time to register when your stomach is truly full.

Make a Workout Plan

Modern cruise ships have plenty of options for fitness buffs and casual exercisers alike. Check out the gym as soon as you can to see what equipment and classes are available. Block out time every day to do something physical, and make each workout session fun by choosing something you don’t get the chance to do at home. You might be able to participate in sports such as kayaking in the area around the ship or when you’re docked in port. Be consistent in the intensity and duration of your activities to maintain your fitness level.

Protect Yourself from Illness

One thing that many people forget about when they’re on a cruise is the risk of catching common illnesses from other passengers or getting sick from the water in port cities. Keep yourself safe from bacteria by washing your hands often, carrying hand sanitizer everywhere you go and avoiding people who are obviously sick. Drink bottled water when you’re in port, and make sure to stay hydrated while you’re on the ship. Depending on where your travels take you, it might be a good idea to consider vaccination before departing.

Don’t Neglect Sleep

With all that there is to do on a cruise, you may find yourself staying up long into the night, not wanting to miss any of the fun. Pick one or two late-night activities to enjoy and make sure that you get to bed at a reasonable hour the rest of the time. Less sleep means a weaker immune system and increased susceptible to illness. Plus, if you’re too tired, it will be harder to make healthy food choices and stay committed to your workout schedule. If you’re struggling with jet leg, try taking a natural supplement such as melatonin or magnesium to help you get to sleep.

As long as you’re mindful, you can enjoy your next cruise without abandoning your regular diet and exercise regimen. Make smart food choices, engage in daily workouts and practice good hygiene, and you’ll arrive home just as healthy as you were when you left.

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