There’s something to be said about cruising without a stomach.
Late last year my husband and I booked a cruise to the Carribean with another couple. None of us had ever cruised before but thought it would be a good trip as we heard that there is something for everyone.
Prior to leaving, I had some fears about the meals. Would they be readily available? Will they have my oatmeal for breakfast? How much sugar is in those mixed drinks? After experiencing dumping syndrome in full force last month, I can say that the fear of it happening again was loud and proud.
When travelling, the arrival and departure days are the most difficult. These are usually long days with limited access my comfort foods. Often you are unable to bring fruit or meat through the security gates. This knocks bananas or wraps. Also, depending on the airport, there are limitations on what you can purchase to eat.
In true trip spirit, I picked up a bunch of Kind bars as well ingredients to create my own trail mix. Often I find the mixes in the stores are too sweet so instead I mix a variety of unsalted nuts with pepita seeds, sunflower seeds, and craisins. It was my mom’s recent creation that I copied but I digress.
Our flight was at 7:30am which meant we had to be at the airport for 5:30am. Add in transport time and we are now at 4:30 am. But I can not forget to factor in last minute packing time so I’m now up at a healthy 3:45am. I wasn’t hungry when we got up so I didn’t eat anything. I figured that there would be a Tim Hortons there where I could order a breakfast wrap. Much to my surprise, the Tim Hortons at the airport did not sell breakfast wraps which left only muffins and bagels. Both would have resulted in my first vacation excursion – the porcelain throne. At this point, trail mix for breakfast didn’t look so bad.
Thankfully, we were given an in-flight meal which was a small sausage quiche with potatoes and sausage on the side. I wish I had taken a picture to display how unappetizing it looked but when you haven’t eaten breakfast and you are slowly running on empty, you’ll eat. I scooped out the egg portion but left the pastry. I didn’t even attempt the potatoes and sausage as it was already a rich breakfast. So I may have eaten 1/2 a cup of egg substitute for breakfast.
After we arrived at the airport we boarded a bus to take us to the port. By the time we cleared customs, got our boarding pass and boarded the vessel it was rounding on 2:30 pm. Needless to say, we were all hungry, stomachless or not!
In true cruise spirit, the first place we located on the ship was the buffet. It must have consisted of at least 10 different areas. There was a bar just allocated to different types of bread. There was even an area where someone would create you your own custom built ice cream sundae! If I still had my stomach I would have loaded my plate until it was overflowing with food, eat it in 10 minutes and then return for seconds. Maybe I’d even eat some dessert and then go back for more main course.
The bread bar
But there is a double edge sword to this buffet. I was like a kid in a candy shop with only 25 cents to spend.
Each time I visited the buffet, I would survey the land to see what was available. Then I would narrow it down to my top few dishes. Often they were the high protein, biggest- bang- for -your -buck kind of dishes. Rice…no thanks. Mashed potatoes? Maybe for the weak. Steak – That’s what I’m talking about! After finishing my small plate of food, I would often say farewell to the buffet and see you in a couple of hours.
I spent some good time at that buffet. In the mornings, I would get up early and go get early breakfast (oatmeal with walnuts, sunflower seeds and a mashed banana) and then go for late breakfast around 10:30 am (bacon, eggs). I would also eat early dinner at the buffet around 4-5:30pm and then 2nd dinner around 8:30pm. One day my friend was looking for me and she decided to check the buffet and of course that’s where she found me. We had a good laugh.
One of my favourite mid day snacks – build you own nachos
When it came to 2nd dinner time, we often ate in the main dining room which consisted of a three course meal. I would often just order the main meal and share it with my friends. If I wanted an appetizer, I could often finish it but then only eat 1/4 of the main meal. The cool part is that the dining room dinner had many sugar free options that were listed on the menu. This also included dessert! I definitely took advantage of the sugar free ice cream.
I couldn’t drink many of the beverages offered on the vessel as most of them were mixed with juice loaded with sugar. One day I happened to catch them refilling a juice machine and the first ingredient was high-fructose corn syrup, followed by glucose. I quickly dumped out the glass of juice I had been holding. I mostly ordered white wine, beer, or caesars on the ship. I had sips of my husband’s frozen mudslides and other delicious sugary drinks. I missed having frozen daiquiris, margaritas, and other delicious frozen beverages.
So maybe I couldn’t eat heaping amounts of food at the buffet. Maybe I had to bypass the ice cream bar. Maybe I had to avoid the sugary beverages. Maybe the buffet was a constant reminder of life prior to my total gastrectomy. However, I have to focus on the positives. I ate like a Queen those seven days and how much weight did I gain? Much to my own surprise. Zero.