For many people, one of the highlights of going on a cruise vacation is the food. From formal dinners in 4-star restaurants, to all-you-can-eat midnight buffets, cruise ships make it easy for passengers to fill their bellies whenever they want with whatever they want.

While the abundant options make for a fun vacation, it can also mean that you have to buy a new wardrobe when you get home. It’s easy to throw caution to the wind on a cruise and eat all sorts of high-calorie, high-fat foods. But when you come home five or ten pounds heavier, you may regret your choices. It is possible, though, to enjoy all that the ship has to offer without turning into a glutton.

Choose active excursions.

Whenever you visit a new port, you’ll have plenty of activity options. Pick one that requires you to get your heart rate up a bit, like hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Even if you want to just lie on the beach all day, take a brisk walk along the shore for every hour you spend basking in the sun. Your waistline will thank you.

Stick to your normal eating patterns as much as possible.

Do you normally eat pancakes drowned in syrup, or pasta with cream sauce, for dinner every night? Probably not. It’s okay to splurge a few times during your trip, but try to stay as close as possible to your normal eating habits. That means choosing lean meats, avoiding heavy sauces, and looking for whole grain, high-fiber foods.

Fill up on fruits and veggies first.

Every ship has a salad bar and most offer fresh fruit plates on every buffet. Fill your plate with a healthy salad with low-fat dressing, and eat that before hitting the buffet for the rest of your meal. Consider adding a cup of a low-fat soup, too. Once you fill up on those items, you’ll be less tempted by the heavier dishes.

Watch your portions.

Just because it’s called “all-you-can-eat” doesn’t mean it’s all you SHOULD eat. Again, fill your plate with healthier options like steamed veggies, and take smaller portions of the higher fat and calorie foods. And only take one or two trips to the buffet.

Avoid the midnight buffet.

Do you normally eat pizza, burgers, or roasted chicken in the middle of the night? So why would you do it now? If you’re starving, pick a healthy snack high in fiber and protein, like a small portion of chips and salsa (not loaded nachos), veggies and hummus, or some Greek yogurt.

Watch your alcohol intake.

Sure, fruity cocktails are fun – and it’s hard to resist a frothy drink with an umbrella in it on your tropical vacation. But just one pina colada can contain nearly half a days worth of calories – combine a few of those each day with a few trips to the buffet line, and you’re going to bring home a few extra pounds as a souvenir. Drink water or unsweetened iced tea instead.

Stay active.

You’re probably thinking “I’m on vacation – I don’t want to work out!” Pack your workout clothes anyway. Not only will getting an hour sweat session each day keep you from gaining weight while you’re away, you’ll also stay on track so it’s not hard to get back to the gym when you get home.

Most cruise ships offer state-of-art exercise rooms full of the latest equipment, as well as jogging tracks and other options for getting a good workout. When you board, get a schedule of the exercise classes offered on board as well. Maybe you’ll have a chance to try a new exercise, like Zumba or Pilates that you haven’t done at home.

Preventing weight gain while you’re on a cruise doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun. In fact, your effort to stay healthy might even help you enjoy your trip more – an excursion could be an unforgettable experience, for example, or you’ll avoid the indigestion, heartburn, and yes, hangovers, that can come from overindulging. Allow for a few rich desserts or drinks and add exercise into each day. You’ll come home rested, refreshed, and still able to fit into your jeans.

This guest post was provided by Shannon Pierce, who is a freelance writer and cruise coordinator. She helps hundreds of people book great Caribbean Cruises, and believes that whether you are booking a cruise to Bahamas or visiting New York City, it is important to get out and experience the world.