Nutrition plays a very important role in a seafarer’s health mostly because of the demanding work environment of the ship especifically in terms of physical condition and the environmental condition.
According to The International Seafarer’s Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) it is vital that seafarers look after their own health and wellbeing at sea and ashore. Where possible, seafarers should try to make healthy, nutritious food choices and ensure a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre, vitamins and minerals with minimum levels of salt, fat and sugar.
The ship, where seafarers not only work but spend all their time during a voyage, is seen as the best place for health intervention.The availability of healthy food choices gives seafarers the opportunity to change to a more healthy diet and make a big difference to their health and well-being.



▪️Encourage and stimulate the crew members to eat healthily. 
▪️Pay attention to healthy food in meetings, at medical check-ups etc.
▪️Use a broad approach to inform and motivate the seafarers onboard. Offer variation in food. 
▪️A healthy menu is not necessarily more expensive than an unhealthy one.
▪️The whole vessel has to be behind the programme: captain and officers have to show their commitment.
▪️It takes time to implement a healthy food programme onboard. 
▪️Behavioural changes take several months and benefi ts may take even longer to become measurable.
▪️Make a systematic plan of what you want to achieve in respect to healthy food and eating onboard and over what period of time. 
▪️Involve key persons like the cook and ship chandler and establish a company policy on health.
▪️Budget for the programme, make sure the activities adopted are evaluated and be prepared to adapt the plan if some initiatives are not as successful as others.
▪️Announce the plan and the changes, organise an event to celebrate the start of the plan such as a special menu or distribute apples or other fruit. 
▪️Ensure the menu of the coming week is on display and remember to stress the healthy alternatives.
▪️Provide healthy drinks and snacks. Also provide information (posters or leafl ets) on healthy food in every place where food is available onboard. 
▪️Ask crew members to fi ll out questionnaires to assess the success and strengths of the plan. 
▪️Give crew members the possibility to suggest and try new recipes.

Book to read on the picture below to read

2.Basics of Healthy Food

Meals have to supply enough proteins for formation and repair of body tissues, adequate supply of minerals to reinforce body tissues and suffi cient carbohydrates and the right amount of fats for energy. There must also be vitamins and anti-oxidants to keep the body’s functions in good order. Crucially good quality drinking water needs to be drunk in large quantities, at least 1,5 litres per day. 
Five Tips for Healthy Food habits : 
1. Balance is the key message
 2. Eat plenty of fruit (3 servings) and vegetables 
 (300 g), potatoes and whole grain products
 3. Reduce the amount of meat (+/- 100 g), fat 
 (< 35%), sugar and salt you eat
 4. Drink plenty of water and milk products
 5. Eat breakfast 
A good tool in ensuring a balanced diet is a food pyramid. 



You are what you eat, apparently. Which can be very bad news if the food onboard is not up to scratch.
Food and nutrition are as important as any other health and wellbeing ingredient – and are a vital part of any good lifestyle regime. The nutrients support the activities of day-to-day living, protect cells from environmental damage and repair any cellular damage that might occur.
Bad eating habits often result in higher fatigue levels, laziness of crew and a lack of productivity. It’s something which the industry is now picking up on.
Food is one of the most important and motivating factors of being on a ship. When seafarers are away for long periods of time, they look forward to a nice meal at the end of the day.
It is crucial that crew members develop good eating habits while they are onboard to ensure high levels of energy to help them complete their daily tasks.


Shift work means that meals cannot be taken at “normal” regular times. Shift work can interfere with the standard eating routine. 
▪️Poor habits can lead to broken sleep, tiredness, and digestive problems. 
▪️Light meals are the best solution : soups, salads and lean meat. 
▪️At the beginning of the shift, eat protein rich food like yoghurt, milk and lean meat. Later on in the shift eat carbohydrates like bread, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit and whole grains.
▪️Try and eat less spicy food, fried and fatty food, and sweets. Try and cut back on caffeine intake,  try fruit juice for a change.
▪️ Eat light snacks like fruit, yoghurt or a glass of milk.
▪️ Eat a meal that provides enough energy before the shift starts.
▪️We all know smoking is bad for your health. Try and cut down and consider others when youlight up.
▪️Take regular exercise, if possible at least 30 minutes.
▪️If you are working in the afternoon or evening shifts : eat a warm meal at noon instead of in the middle of the shift.
▪️If you are working at night try and eat “breakfast” in the late afternoon or early evening. 
▪️After work eat a light snack to avoid going to bed feeling hungry


Although it remains diffi cult to estimate the impact of poor nutrition on occupational accidents, the connection between fatigue and nutritional defi ciency (iron and vitamin B) is well known. 
▪️Iron deficiency accounts for loss in productivity and results in fatigue and loss of dexterity.
▪️Lack of food can induce drowsiness and is a risk onboard ship. 
▪️Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) can shorten attention spans and slow down the processing of information.
▪️Snacking on sugary foods and drinks, gives a short surge in energy but can leave the body more tired afterwards.


For seafarers today, weight control is a major issue. There are rumours that on some ships, it is not uncommon for crews to consume over 4000 calories per day, per person. Which is incredible.
Taking in the same number of calories as are burned ensures weight remains steady over time. For long trips away, it can become vitally important to try and maintain a good and sensible level of consumption.
Consuming more than is burned, on the other hand, results in weight gain as the body converts extra calories to fat tissue. When fat tissue accumulates, then not only can it be uncomfortable and distressing – but there are also massive increases in the risk of developing one or more health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, respiratory issues, diabetes and cancer.


MLC tackles the issue of food because it is serious – it may not seem like the most important safety or operational issue, but when people are ill onboard, or suffer health problems because of a lack of good food, then it can be seen that this needs a real focus.
It’s not just about getting fat. Indeed, obesity is not the only nutrition-related cause of disease onset and progression. Too much or too little of certain nutrients can also contribute to health issues.
For instance, a lack of calcium in your diet can predispose people to developing osteoporosis, or weakening of bones, while too much saturated fat can cause cardiovascular disease, and too few fruits and vegetables in your nutrition plan is associated with an increased incidence of cancer.
Consuming foods from a wide variety of sources helps ensure the body has the nutrients it needs to avoid these health problems. So the company needs to ensure that an adequate feeding rate is provided, and cooks need to have the skills and knowledge to keep their crews fed properly and well.


Most seafarers are used to eating fairly well at home – Asian and it diets are considered particularly healthy, so it can come of something of a shock to the system if the food at sea is not good enough. It can also be difficult for seafarers from various cultures and races to eat different food on an ongoing, sustained basis.
Where seafarers may not be used to potatoes or a high fat Western diet, there can be issues. While some Western seafarers do express concern if they have to sustain themselves on too many rice dishes. There is a balance which has to be maintained to ensure a nutritious approach to eating onboard.

Book to read on the picture below to read




– When the body is metabolising normally, free radicals are formed which have a negative impact on the body’s functions. Smoking stimulates the production of free radicals. High levels of free radicals can damage the body’s cells, cause heart and vascular diseases and cancer. There is evidence to suggest that they also speed up the ageing process and can lead to cataracts and other eye diseases.
▪️ Anti-oxidants neutralise the harmful actions of free radicals, and as such, have a positive effect on health. 
▪️In addition to vitamins, there are other bio-active products such as fl avonoids and minerals for example, selenium, which act as anti-oxidants.
▪️The amount of anti-oxidants we need on a daily basis to prevent disease is not yet clear to medical professionals. 



So what can seafarers do to improve eating habits? Any guess! 
First, and perhaps easiest change is to substitute water for high-calorie, sugary drinks. Water instead of Coke. Cut out the salt and avoid condiments – especially ketchup. While seafarers are unlikely to be able to influence the ingredients used, there are options when eating which can help.
Sometimes it is about making some educated and sensible choices. Too many crisps or chips? Well it’s probably time to offset the bad stuff with an apple – or something fresh and crunchy. If they are not provided onboard, then this is a legitimate issue to raise – as good things to eat should be part of the job.
This post is written by Riya Saikia, she is going to be a future nutritionist and runs an Instagram page name as Foodgenic.. do follow her page.
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