Tips To Manage Diabetes While On Travel Vacation - Dr V Mohan
Summer is upon us, and like most of us, you probably enjoy picnics on vacation. Diabetes is not a barrier to vacation; all you need to do is take some special precautions to beat the heat of the summer and anticipate difficult situations.
Getting through the summer heat while on vacation is a huge challenge. Even if you don't have diabetes, these extremely hot summer days can cause dehydration. Make a promise to yourself to prioritize your needs this holiday season. Even though you've worked hard all year to stay on track with managing your diabetes, the holidays may cause you to get off track. Travel, parties, large meals, snack foods at work, and drinking; all of these things make it hard to eat healthily. When you add in days of travel and little planned exercise, staying on track becomes a real challenge.
You can maintain your blood sugar levels and enjoy parties and gatherings just like everyone else if you follow these tips.
- Eat breakfast or snacks earlier in the day and avoid saving carbs for a big meal later.
- It may be more difficult to control your blood sugar if you skip meals.
- Limit the number of starchy foods you put on your plate.
- Although having rolls, sweet potato casserole, and mashed potatoes may be tempting, try to limit yourself to just one.
- Pick fruits and vegetables that are grilled, steamed, or served raw.
- Instead of punch or mixed drinks, choose drinks without calories like water, tea, seltzer, or diet sodas.
- If you decide to drink alcohol, drink it with food and in moderation. Discuss with your medical team whether drinking alcohol is safe for you.
- Enjoy your favourite holiday treats, but eat them slowly, in small portions, and savour the flavour and texture.
- Take a walk with your loved ones after dinner. Exercise will also get you moving, help you stay focused on your goals, and give you a much-needed break. Work out in a cool place like an air-conditioned gym, early in the morning or late at night, and not in high temperatures. Drink water before and after exercising.
- Before you order anything, take a look at all of the food options and consider what you'll eat. Stick to your decision about which foods should be eaten and which should be avoided.
- Avoid eating crackers and chips straight out of the bag; if you do so, do it in moderation.
- Do not hang out close to the food counter at parties. Instead of eating, choose a comfortable spot across the room and concentrate on socializing.
- During the holidays, keep in mind to check your blood sugar regularly, and adding a few more checks on a party day might help you make better decisions.
- The day before a party, go for a walk or your usual exercise class. Focus on it as opposed to saying there isn't time. It probably has more significance than the celebration!
- Dehydration can also occur in diabetes when the normal range of blood glucose levels is not controlled. The body's urine excretion may rise in response to elevated blood glucose levels. As a result, drinking more water is especially important for people with diabetes because dehydration can result in falsely high blood sugar readings.
- Fruit juices, tender coconut water, and other such beverages are, in general, not recommended for people with diabetes. However, you can drink diluted skimmed buttermilk, lemon or tomato juice (without sugar), iced tea (without sugar), Pudina or Tulsi leaves- or Jeera-flavored water, and consume plenty of high-fibre green leafy vegetables like cabbage, greens, plantain stem, bitter gourd, and so on, in addition to plain water.
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables like watermelon, muskmelon, raw mango, and cucumbers can be taken regularly.
- When you are on holiday you may be unable to get the same foods which are suggested by the dietitian, so it is in every case better to go with snacks like whole wheat bread, /multi-grain bread/rice chips/puffed rice and so forth with pre-estimated serving sizes.
- It's better to limit foods that are fried and to avoid foods that are heavily black-charged on the grill.
• To avoid foot soreness and blisters, you should change your socks frequently and wear a shoe with a closed toe that is comfortable.
• During sick days, check your blood glucose levels more frequently and daily. Keep in mind that elevated blood glucose levels can be influenced by heat.
• Keep your insulin, blood glucose strips, and meter cool and dry. Try not to store insulin in extreme temperatures. Never store insulin in direct sunlight.
• Your diabetes identification card should always be with you at all times.
Before you go, here are some helpful hints for both before and during your trip:
• For longer trips that take more than 3 or 4 days, meet your primary care physician and finish a complete health check-up.
• Sort out the essentials. If you are taking insulin, make adjustments to the dosage and carry your medical supplies.
• You must carry certain medications and equipment (such as glucometers, insulin pumps, and pumps) and have a letter from your doctor and an identification card mentioning that you have diabetes.
• You should have travel insurance on hand in case of an emergency.
• Be aware of the various time zones when travelling abroad and adjust your watches accordingly. Inform the airline company of your diabetes and the items you must bring.
• At your destination, locate the closest pharmacies and health clinics.
Your diabetes kit should contain:
• Extra medications, a glucose meter, test strips and needles, batteries, insulin pens (if you use them), gel packs (to store them), healthy snacks in case you miss a meal, glucose tablets or powders to treat hypoglycemia, the contact information of the doctor who is treating you, and a basic first aid kit.
Throughout the trip:
• Check your blood sugar more frequently than usual, especially if you are in a different time zone and climate.
• If you plan to travel by train or road, try to bring snacks and a full day's worth of food with you. Rice flakes, roasted Bengal grams, roasted nuts, dried fruits, Theplas, Parathas, Khakra, and Lemon Daliya with Chutney can keep for a few days.
• Insulin cases and gel packs are available, which can keep the insulin cool for up to 40 hours.
• You can likewise wrap the insulin bottles in thick material napkins dunked in chilled water.
Enjoy your travels!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are of the author and not of Medical Dialogues. The Editorial/Content team of Medical Dialogues has not contributed to the writing/editing/packaging of this article.
Dr. Viswanathan Mohan, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., FRCP, FNA, FACE, FTWAS, MACP is an internationally acclaimed Diabetologist and Scientist. He is the President & Chief of Diabetes Research, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation. He is also the Chairman & Chief Diabetologist of Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai. In 2012, Dr. Mohan was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian award of the Govt. of India. He is also a member of the advisory board of Medical Dialogues.