Eating right while traveling internationally . . . part 2
You can enjoy eating on a cruise without gaining 10 lbs. Don’t think I’m on my high horse here, because if I told you I didn’t indulge on the cruise, I’d be lying. If I said I didn’t eat gelato for dessert occasionally (it was an Italian cruise line), you’d write me off as some kind of nut, and I promise I’m not. But I gained a couple of pounds, rather than 10, and it’s half gone now with some seriously healthy “green” eating in the four days I’ve been back.
On the cruise, think of what you really enjoy eating that is GOOD for you but is kind of a treat, something you don’t often get at home. Then ask for it. For instance, I love sauteed spinach and fresh garlic, with barely any olive oil, but I rarely make it. I asked for it repeatedly at dinner when every other person at my table ordered a steak or lamb chops. (It sounded SO good to me, probably because I’d been so long without my GS!) Sometimes the staff indulged me, sometimes not. When risotto was on the menu, I asked them to toss it with lots of steamed veggies instead of the seafood or chicken. Think creatively when you order. I confess I never ate any meat except for lobster night . . . and then it didn’t taste good to me with all the butter and bread crumbs, so I ate only a few bites. I asked for the salad first, since Europeans seem to like it last on the menu.
By the way, Americans don’t have the worst diet–the British and Australians do! Americans were only 5 percent of the cruise passengers, so we spent lots of time with Europeans and Aussies, and their diet, OY!
You can always get a big bowl of fabulous fresh pineapple, mango, dragon fruit, kiwi, and beautiful exotic things in cruises anywhere near tropical places. It’s a treat just to have it already cut up for you. My daughter ate about a whole pineapple every day we were there because she asked for it three times a day. I can’t believe she never got canker sores.
You can try different raw vegetables than the ones you eat at home. When we got back from shore excursions, we were HUNGRY. We went to the buffet and ate lots of raw, sliced fennel root and red curly kale in salads topped with no dressing except the three-bean salad, and a big bowl of fruit. In Vietnam, they serve lovely salads made of the roots of the lotus flowers that float on the water. This weekend I’m going to try to make a bunch of Vietnamese vegetarian fare (a cuisine I knew little about). If anything’s really good, I’ll share it here.
You can also let the restaurants and maitre d’ on the ship know you’re a vegetarian. Even if you’re NOT technically a vegetarian, you’ll get wonderful food–variety, color, texture, flavor–asking for plant-based dishes. I have never had more amazing food than I did in Vietnamese restaurants, where every dish was served with a pile of fresh mint, cilantro, and basil leaves. I wrapped them in everything (wrapped a big lettuce leaf and lots of those herbs around spring rolls, for instance). They make food so flavorful and unique–and different than what I eat at home!
Everyone at my table ignored the piles of mint and basil on their plates and just ate the other food. The people sitting next to me at one restaurant were served a young Thai coconut, doused in some kind of alcohol and lit on fire, filled with some kind of beef thing. They all ate the beef and didn’t touch the coconut until I told them how to get the coconut out, and how good it is for you! I couldn’t help but think, as waiters would take away their plates, that in the U.S., that much basil and mint would cost $20! In Hindu parts of town, throughout Asia, restaurants are mostly vegetarian.