If you are looking to learn more about how to eat healthy on a Disney Cruise, then you’ve come to the right place.
As a cruise veteran, I can tell you that while the temptation to indulge is always there and the opportunity is ever-present, there are ways to manage your cravings, have a great time, and still keep yourself in relatively good shape so you don’t come off the cruise as a blob.
In this article, I’ll share some of my ideas, give you links to learn more. I invite you to share YOUR ideas in the comments as well.
Look – I get it, when people think of food on cruises they often think of giant buffets that re forever swarmed by super-size-me crowds. With mountains of FREE food forever flowing in endless rows, the ability to consume “infinity” calories IS possible, and if that’s your goal then this article is NOT for you (you might prefer my other article ‘How to Eat your Way to an Early Grave.’ Haha, Just Kidding).
In all seriousness, I’m not here to preach to you, I simply wanna help you have a good time and do it in a healthy manner, and those 2 goals (having fun AND staying healthy) are not mutually exclusive – with just a little bit of ‘paying attention’ you can indulge, enjoy, and stay healthy.
3 Tips to Eat Healthy on a Disney Cruise
Tip 1 – Buffets are not all bad
Let’s get this out right up front – the buffets on a Disney Cruise are actually quite good and while it’s true that they are filled with numerous poor choices (fried foods, seafood covered in cream sauces, sodas, hi sugar ice cream, etc, etc), there are a lot of other good choices too.
For example, if you’re having breakfast at Cabanas, consider these ideas:
- Smoked Salmon/Fish
- Miso Soup (if you’ve never had soup for breakfast you are missing out, a good bowl of Miso Soup is an awesome start!)
- Eggs + Bacon without the bread
- Fresh Fruit Bowl – you’ll find mangos (like a super B12 shot), citrus wedges, melons, grapes, apples, bananas, etc.
- Greek Yogurt Bar – make your own concoction
- Ask your waiter or someone at the food counters for a handful of fresh spinach to add to your plate to much on for roughage
- And so much
Any 1-3 combo of this would likely started you off on the right track with high protein, healthy fats, and low carbs.
Just be careful that you take your time eating and don’t go up more than twice.
One time would likely be ideal to keep you in the 300-500 range for calories. If you go twice, be sure you get a workout in to build some calories back off. If you go back to the buffet 3+ times, you’re heading into the ‘eat to infinity and beyond’ range and that’s not good even for Buzz Lightyear.
DCL Insiders Tips
If you like to practice Intermittent Fasting like me – get the early dinner seating so you’ll be done eating by 630-7pm.
The next day you can hit the gym for some “Fasting Cardio” before breakfast.
Finally stroll into one of the buffets around 10 am the next day and you’ll get 15+ hrs on your fast and still enjoy all the benefits of the Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle you are used to.
Tip 2 – Indulge “Consciously” at Dinner
Lots of DCL Insiders talk about one of the benefits of Disney Cruise restaurants is that the food is good (it is!), you can have as many servings as you want (you can!), you can order double-entrees (it’s true), etc, etc.
All this may be true, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should or that if you do that you’ll feel good about it.
Instead, let’s try a different plan – consider the “Tapas” approach.
Let me explain.
- Do all four of the appetizers on the menu look good? Great, so order them for the table – that way you can have 1 of each and the total calorie content will stay relatively low.
- You want a soup and salad and 1-2 entrees? If the soup is creamed based, split it with your spouse. Then eat as much of that salad/roughage as you want because it will fill you up with healthy food (but careful on that creamy dressing – put that on the side and dip into it if you want to).
- Regarding the entree – consider the fresh fish dishes (they are very good – so long as they are without creams), or varieties of lean meats (both the chicken and steak are good). Skip the fries. Skip the pasta. And skip the stuff you can have anytime at home. Pock something that sounds good but is healthy and lean. It’s not hard to eat healthy on a Disney Cruise with just a little effort.
- You want more than 1 entree? – I’m sure more than 1 will look good and yes you CAN order multiple ones, but again let’s turn back to that Tapas Approach to manage this and increase our enjoyment: each of your party can order a different entree (or even 2) and have them be placed in the middle of the table. Then you can all enjoy a lot more variety and you’ll control what you eat.
DCL Insider’s Tip
Use the small bread plates for your eating plate – not only does this save space on the table, but it will force you to eat slower and savor the food more, then you’ll get a chance to control your portion size too.
How about that dessert?
Again let’s go the ‘sharing’ route – do you really need an entire sundae for yourself? Personally I find that 2-4 bites is enough for me of any dessert so rather than be locked into 1 dessert I like to sample a few bites of each one. If everybody orders a different one, you can try lots of different desserts. Try it, you’ll like it!
Tip 3 – Hit the Juice Bar at Senses Spa
The Senses Spa has a Juice Bar with lots of option.
From fresh-squeezed single juices, to juice creations, to fruit/veggie smoothies. For about $5, you can’t go wrong with one of these treats. And if you are post-workout, they have protein blends too. Bonus!
Don't Forget the Workout
Eating Healthy on a Disney Cruise is not that hard with the tips we’ve talked about. And to take it to the next level, be sure to add in your workout too.
You can workout on a Disney Cruise in a variety of ways.
- Hit the FREE Gym on the upper decks.
- Take a swim in one of the many pools.
- Play some hoops.
- Take long swim on Castaway Cay or go snorkeling.
- Or even just walk the decks of the ship.
Up for a challenge?
If you want a SUPER GOOFY Challenge – Start in the aft, bottom floor, walk the stars all the way to top, walk to midship, walk the stairs all the way down, walk to forward, walk the stairs all the way up – and again finish with a juice at Senses or maybe do the Rainforest Rain Spa).
Remember if you can stay in a ‘net’ caloric deficit or at least in balance, then you’ll maintain your weight – and that’s our goal, right?
Eat Healthy on a Disney Cruise
Those are 3 tips I used to eat healthy on my last Disney Cruise. Using these tips I was able to avoid getting bloated, keep my energy level up, and have a great time. I hope they help you do the same.
What are YOUR tips to eat healthy on a Disney Cruise?