The end of the year is just around the corner. Schools are closed and most of us will be taking this opportunity to go on a holiday with the family. Those celebrating Christmas, will be looking forward to the upcoming festivities. For some of us, balancing the need to keep our diabetes under check and having fun might be a tad tricky. Here are some tips that may help.
- Plan your trip: If you are taking long haul flights or long drives, be sure to anticipated disruptions. Pack enough snacks and stay sufficiently hydrated. Keep your medications including insulin in the carry-on luggage. It would be wise to bring along a letter or prescription from your doctor for airport security. Always bring extra or double the amount of medications that you may need throughout the trip. Trying to find the same medications that you’ve been on when you are in a foreign country will not be easy. Try not to keep all the medications in the same place, in case your luggage goes missing or the hotel staff accidentally dispose them.
- Maintain regular meals: Overeating at any particular meal and skipping the next one to get back on track may lead to further overeating. This causes fluctuations in your blood glucose levels that may be difficult to control with your current medications. Keeping to your regular meal portions and schedule as well as exercise is important.
- Frequent blood glucose monitoring: Whenever there is a change in either health, meals or activities, it is always advised to monitor blood glucose more frequently. Remember to bring your glucometer and enough strips, and keep them with you, even during flights.
- Make smart food choices: Do your research on the local food choices. Enjoy trying out the local food but do not forget to think about the effect on your blood glucose. Consume more of the locally grown vegetables, as these will be fresher and tastier.When eating out, scan the menu for low carbohydrate, low fat, lean meat choices. Go for low glycaemic index food; salad, beans, legumes and wholegrain options that will fill you up longer. Skip the fried food, and opt for grilled, baked or roasted options. Be aware of portion size. At buffets, do skip the “must try everything” attitude. Use a smaller plate so that you will not be able to take large portions. Eat slowly. When indulging in ice-cream, choose non-dairy and skip the toppings.Many supermarkets abroad now have diabetic-friendly meals that are worth checking out.
- Budget sweets and treats: If avoiding sweets, desserts and local treats is too much to ask for, do plan and make allowances for it. You may want to cut down your carbohydrate during your main meal for that small piece of Turkish delight for dessert.
- Alcohol intake: If you plan to drink, never do so on an empty stomach. This may cause your blood glucose levels to drop too much.
- Stay active: Remember to exercise during your holiday. Make full use of the hotel swimming pool, run a new track or rent a bicycle. Walk whenever you can and enjoy the new surroundings. Add more physical activities that you can do together and spend time as a family in your itinerary. Remember that this is the very reason for this holiday season anyway.
- Travel insurance: It is always good sense to buy travel insurance and choose one that would cover diabetes.
Having said of all the above, to err is only human. Try as we may, if we have overindulged this holiday, stop focusing on the guilt and get back on track with diet, exercise and medications.
Enjoy your holidays!
Monday, 22 April 2019 by Dr Suehazlyn Zainudin (Endocrinology & Internal Medicine)