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Exotic Flavours: A Recipe For Success

You’ve chosen your destination, watched all the slideshows, salivate at the delicious dishes that await you… and then, diabetes crashes your party. Yes, travelling impacts your routine, especially food-wise, but there’s no need for you to go hungry. Read on!

Before setting sail

First, research your destination and its cuisine. For example, Mediterranean food is generally easier to manage than carb-rich Italian dishes (pizza and pasta ahoy!). Also make sure you learn about local eating habits. In some countries, such as Spain, people eat much later than in North America.

Then, whether you’re going by plane or boat, contact your travel agent or carrier in advance to confirm mealtimes and request healthy options. You may be hit with delays, so plan to carry snacks such as nuts, crackers or fruit compote as well as rapid-absorption sugars—glucose tablets, for example.

Finally, with all of this information in hand, talk to your health care professional about adjusting your diet plan and how to react if your blood glucose levels act up.

While flying or sailing

Be aware that travelling by plane can cause altitude-related discomfort such as dehydration and bloating, which can disrupt your blood glucose. Try to drink plenty of water, go easy on the alcohol and coffee, and avoid gassy foods (legumes, fast food, etc.).

On a cruise, you’re likely to get plenty of time to enjoy good food and drinks. Be wary of buffets—or rather, of excess—watch your portions, prefer healthy options and don’t indulge in too many of those often super-sweet colourful cocktails.

Both feet on the ground

Once at your destination, you’ll probably want to see everything, do everything, taste everything… but you still need to monitor your carbs and follow your diet plan to keep your diabetes under control. Here are some tips for the road:

  • Start by trying foreign foods in small quantities, and test your blood glucose more often than at home to see how it reacts to these changes.
  • Prefer healthy cooking methods—grilling instead of frying, for example.
  • Savour your meal by eating it slowly. That’s a good habit to adopt in general, as it helps you detect your satiety signals.
  • Be as regular as you can with your meal schedule, and fill in the gaps with healthy snacks.
  • When combined with heat, alcohol can have severe effects on your blood glucose level. Once again, moderation is your best friend. And remember to stay hydrated!
  • Some diseases, such as hepatitis A, traveller’s diarrhea and typhoid, are transmitted through food and beverages. Do your best to avoid hazardous products (seafood, unpasteurized dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, badly cooked meat, street food, cocktails with ice cubes).

Ultimately?

Culinary pleasures are at the heart of travel, and though diabetes never goes on vacation, you can easily keep it at bay with a few precautions. Bon appétit!

References:
Accu-Chek, Are you more about adventure or relaxation?, 2017.
References:Accu-Chek, Travelling with diabetes, 2017.
Canadian Diabetes Association, “Travel Tips For People With Diabetes”: https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/general-tips/travel-tips-for-people-with-diabetes. Accessed August 21, 2017.
Diabetes Québec, Guide de voyage pour la personne diabétique: https://www.diabete.qc.ca/fr/comprendre-le-diabete/tout-sur-le-diabete/getdocument/guide-de-voyage-pour-la-personne-diabetique. Accessed August 21, 2017.
Diabetes Self-Management, “Eating Well While Traveling”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/diabetes-resources/money-matters/eating-well-while-traveling/. Accessed August 21, 2017.