My Diabetes Vacation

Written by Ilene Raymond Rush

I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

I took a vacation from my diabetes. Not completely: I tried to get in some exercise and downed my medications. But I spent two trips this summer—one to Martha’s Vineyard and the other to Asheville, North Carolina—avoiding and generally sabotaging my diabetes diet.

 And to be honest, it was pretty wonderful.

I generally stick to a very strict eating plan to keep my everyday sugars and A1C in check. Oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast, some sort of salad with egg whites or cheese for lunch, and fish and veggies for dinner. It’s boring and repetitive and I don’t recommend it for anyone, except that it seems to work for me. Eating this way with the addition of metformin and a little replagintide has kept my A1c’s in the low six range, which is where I and my endo like them.

 But this summer, I fell off track. I tried to stay on the straight and narrow, but delicious food and drink—tacos and ice cream and coleslaw and wine and gin & tonics—got in the way.

And though I knew better, I didn’t object. I let loose. I relaxed my guard. I made a half-hearted try to count my carbs but generally gave up by the end of the day. I put away my glucose monitor because I knew I wouldn’t like what I saw.

Venturing to the Dark Side

It wasn’t without consequences. When I returned, tan and a few pounds heavier, I took my readings and they weren’t very pretty:  194 one day;  205 the next.

Part of me wanted to cry.

But then I realized that I had choices and for better or worse, I had chosen to go off to the dark side. And now, back on home turf, I could make a second choice: to give up or get myself get back to the program.

It wasn’t easy. The girl who had slurped down a bowl of rum raisin ice cream (my favorite and homemade!) was not going to settle for naked oatmeal. At least not right away. So I decided to compromise. Rather than head for Ben and Jerry’s, I sprinkled some raisins on my oatmeal – not quite the same, but a little sweeter than normal. At lunch, settling down to my salad, I gave it a shot of sriracha sauce to get a spicy flavor and at dinner, where I studiously avoid grains or carbs, I let myself have a  quarter cup of pasta salad.

The next day, my sugars were down, but not all the way. I gave myself a week to wean myself down to my old familiar diet, and by the time I had, I started seeing 105’s and 103’s once more.

Is a diabetes vacation for everyone? No way. Only you know where you are with your personal plan, and what foods will make your sugars rise and fall. For me, it was worth a few weeks of less than stellar sugars to taste some of the foods I deny myself all year; but for you, it may be a completely different story.

However, I have to admit that in addition to feeling bad, I also felt very, very good mixing up my diet and eating like a ‘normal’ person. I almost forgot for a few weeks that I had diabetes, which was a vacation in itself.