If you ask someone what’s the best part of a cruise, chances are they will tell you it is the food. After all, cruises are notorious for nonstop, all-you-can-eat breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Not to mention snacks in between, to ensure no one goes hungry. No wonder the average passenger gains eight pounds on the friendly seas.

I was one of the lucky few who not only didn’t gain a pound on my cruise, but actually lost a few. And no, not because of my new love for working out, but because I couldn’t eat the food. It wasn’t kosher.

The rest of the passengers had their choice of just about anything you could imagineNow, before you worry that I starved (you never need to worry about that with me), I was well fed the entire time. Not only did I pack backup food along with protein bars, the ship did provide some basic kosher accommodations. And so, for four days, my meals consisted of fresh fish with snow peas, spinach leaves with cherry tomatoes and olive oil, a baked potato and grapes for dessert. My seasonings were the unopened bottle of olive oil they gave me that we kept in our room, the small salt packets that came with my plasticware, and the lemons I squeezed on whatever I ate.

It was sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, meat-free. Healthy, simple and surprisingly good.

Meanwhile, the rest of the passengers had their choice of just about anything you could imagine. Not only was there the regular menu, but they even provided a low-calorie, healthy diet menu. I never saw anyone actually look at it, though. People were ordering steaks and pastas, seafood and elaborate salads. You name it, it was there.

But a funny thing happened. Meal after meal.

Unlike anyone else, I didn’t use the regular china, but rather the paper plates and plasticware that were brought to me. And all of my food came to me double-wrapped in silver foil. First they brought my salad. A bed of spinach leaves along with uncut cherry tomatoes. I drizzled some olive oil and salt, and was about to eat, when I felt stares. Subconsciously looking around, I feared that someone found it rude that I was eating in a fancy dining room on a paper plate. But no, that was not it. Seconds after people spotted my salad, a few people called over their waiters. “Excuse me, but I didn’t see that on the menu. Can I get one of those too?”

Seriously? There were probably ten salads to choose from, but it was my spinach leaves that were suddenly in high demand. I listened as the waiter politely explained that the only reason I had it was because I needed special food, and it wasn’t on the main menu, but if they insisted, he could ask the cook to prepare one for them as well.

And then came my main course. As the waiter proceeded to bring my food, wrapped tightly in silver foil, curious and jealous eyes followed, waiting for me to unwrap my special gift, food that only I was privy to.

Sure enough, all faces turned to me as I unwrapped my fish and potato. I knew that my sea bass was no longer on the menu, and just waited to hear the requests for whatever I was having.

Feeling sympathy at this point for my fellow travelers, I turned to the four or five tables who clearly had nothing better to do than watch me eat, and tried to explain that there was really nothing to envy. I explained I keep kosher and therefore can’t eat the same food, and that the only reason my food was wrapped was not because it was more elegant, but because it needed to be for my dietary requirements. The questions then ensued, which I was more than happy to answer, and finally I was allowed to eat my dinner, free of interruption.

I kid you not: every lunch and every dinner, the same thing happenedI kid you not: every lunch and every dinner, the same thing happened. It didn’t matter that those in the tables around us had so much food it could barely fit; as soon as they saw I had something different, heads turned.

In Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of Our Fathers, the question is asked, “Who is rich?” And the answer given is, “He who is happy with what he has.”

I thought about this statement my whole trip. Here I was, with my best friend, being treated to a remarkable vacation to the beautiful Bahamas. For months I would count the days, excited beyond imagination. But, funny enough, when I would tell people I was going on a cruise, the usual response was, “Is it a kosher cruise?” And when I would say it wasn’t, almost automatically would come, “What a bummer. The food is the best part. It’s almost a waste to go on a cruise and not eat the food.”

Really? A waste? I could have sat in the hotel room at the Miami airport for four days with my friend, and I would have had an amazing time. I wasn’t going for the food. I was going to spend quality time catching up with someone I love dearly. Food? Sure, I needed it to survive, but as long as I had something to eat, I would be fine. And more than fine I was.

So often, we can get caught up looking over our shoulder at what someone else has. And when we don’t know them or their circumstances, it can look so much better than what is on our plate. It may look more exciting, or more successful, or more important. And because we don’t have it, rather than looking down and seeing what is in our lives, we can easily focus on what isn’t. I am victim to this all too often. And while I worry about what I lack, I fail to see the blessings that fill my life all the time.

Fortunately, I saw and felt and experienced every single blessing on my trip. I didn’t lack for a thing, and didn’t feel I missed out on anything. And in hindsight, I actually don’t think it was really my spinach leaves and baked potato that attracted so much attention. I think what they were picking up on, consciously or subconsciously, was that my friend and I sat there, smiles plastered on our faces, recognizing how blessed and fortunate we were to be doing what we were doing. I think that is actually what they were trying to order for themselves. And since they weren’t sure where it was coming from, I guess they just assumed that it must have been whatever was hidden within that aluminum foil that was making me so happy!