No Vacation From Diabetes!

Written by Nancy Sayles Kaneshiro

I learned something important a little late in life…a vacation does not include a pass to forget about diabetes and eat anything you want while you’re away on a trip. It doesn’t?  Who knew?  I used to love the whole idea of being off the radar and making food part of the overall enjoyment of being away.

The whole idea of a vacation is to get away from the daily grind, recharge your batteries and enjoy a change of scenery, whether at a local beach, along the Champs-Élysées or on a cruise, but the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t make for great memories if you end up feeling stuffed and awful, with your blood sugar totally out of whack. 

Just like being at home, planning ahead is the key. Forewarned is forearmed. The food you encounter on vacation may look better and probably taste better than anything you would eat on a daily basis, so if you can grab a sneak peek at a menu or two, it will be easier to make good choices when you get there. 

It helps to know what your triggers are and plan for them.  As I shared with you in a previous blog, I love carbohydrates. That made it difficult to show my husband around New York City a couple of years ago, restaurant by restaurant.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted New York pizza, I told him. So he had one.  And I, the recovering carb addict and type 2 diabetic, struggling with my weight and blood glucose level had a piece of pizza, somewhere on the Lower East Side, at a place whose aroma drew me there from a block away. I ate a piece of pizza. I enjoyed it. I savored it. I dreamed about it.  And it didn’t kill me, but I thought my doctor would when I confessed my transgression to him (Forgive me, doctor, for I have sinned). It was the one time he cut me a little slack—having earned one of his many degrees from Columbia, he knew what I was up against.

Since then, I’ve learned to put into practice a valuable lesson we all learned in kindergarten but I had never applied to food— sharing.  You don’t want to feel deprived every day because, as we all know, deprivation can lead to major lapses in judgment when it comes to food.  But a bite here and there – and I do mean a bite – probably won’t derail you, and you will feel triumphant (and maybe even a little smug) when you don’t overdo it. So now when I’m out with friends and they order dessert (God knows, I would never order it myself!), the waiter puts down one dessert, four forks and runs like hell. Works for me!

One important thing to remember when you’re on vacation is that it’s impossible to drink too much water.  Drink, drink, drink. And when you’re done, drink some more.  Dehydration can knock you for a loop when you’re away, in a variety of unpleasant ways, so, when you’re on the go, don’t forget to hydrate!  And another hint…if you’re going to be out and about for several hours at a time and your meals aren’t as scheduled as they might be at home, carry orange juice! It’s one thing to eat appropriately so that your blood sugar doesn’t spiral out of the atmosphere, it’s quite another to be having so much fun you forget to eat and come crashing down.  I hate that feeling. So I visit the kiddie aisle at the market and find little cans or boxes of juice so that I can get myself out of the hypoglycemic basement if I need to.

If you’re trying to lose some weight in order to better control your diabetes, and you can manage to come home from vacation breaking even, you are a winner! Do as much walking as you possibly can, take a moment to read menus and make the best possible choices, carry a lot of water and a little juice, and most importantly, have a great time.

 With this approach you’ll come home a winner!

Bon voyage!  Stay well!

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