Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.
Vacation is a great time to take a break from everyday life. Unfortunately, there are no breaks from diabetes.
For many, and maybe for you too, the key to good diabetes control is routine. Having a set routine often helps keep blood sugar levels balanced and consistent. Anyone who has ever been on vacation, though, can tell you that it is very hard to keep a routine when you are in a foreign environment and have activities planned that you would not normally have on a regular basis.
There are ways, however, to make your vacation a little more worry-free while still keeping good diabetes control.
Tips to help keep good blood sugar control on vacation
1. Keep meal times consistent. Balanced meals are very important, but it can be hard when you aren't sure when the next meal will be. Plan in meal times just like places you're visiting or activities you're participating in so you will know when and where you will be eating. This will help you take the proper amount of insulin or other medication and to know if you should plan in a snack or not.
2. Have a snack. You should always carry a snack with you just in case you have low blood sugar. If you know you are going to be more active than usual, take a few snacks and eat more frequently to avoid low blood sugar.
3. Make sure those around you know you have diabetes. If you are going to be with people who you don’t know that well, take a few minutes and explain to them that you have diabetes. This will take away any awkwardness when you pull out your meter to test, inject insulin, or take your medication. It may be smart to also teach them a little bit about what to do if you have an extreme low or need help.
4. Test your blood sugar often. Because your regular routine may be thrown off, your blood sugar levels most likely will too. Test your blood sugar more often than usual to make sure it stays stable. The last thing you want when you are on vacation is for your blood sugar to go up and down like a roller coaster. Not only is that bad for your diabetes management, but it often makes you very sick or fatigued, which will definitely prevent you from enjoying your vacation.
5. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water during your planned activities, especially if you will be in the sun. Dehydration can really throw blood sugar levels out of whack.
Beyond these five tips, the most important thing you can do is pay attention to how you feel. Be aware and make smart decisions for your health. You can’t enjoy your vacation if you aren't healthy, so take breaks to re-energize and eat as healthfully as you can. Even though you can’t take a break from diabetes, you can definitely take a break from everyday life and still enjoy yourself.
What are your personal vacation tips? Share with the community in the comments below.