Holiday Health Hazards for Diabetics
Passport. Check. Currency. Check. Luggage. Check. There’s a lot to think about when going on holiday, but even more so if you are travelling with diabetes. As the holiday season approaches, Lift's Diabetes Specialist Dietician, Lucy Diamond highlights five potential hazards to be wary of.
“It’s great to get away to sunnier climes, but heat can cause havoc for blood glucose levels. In hot and humid weather when you inject insulin it can be absorbed more quickly into the body, which can make the risk of hypoglycaemia increase. You may need to check your blood glucose levels a bit more often than usual to know how heat affects your levels and keep you safe in the sun! Also remember to store your insulin safely, away from direct sunlight, in the fridge or a cool bag and if you’re on a pump, keep it out of direct sunlight. And keep a source of fast acting carbohydrate at hand.
“We all like a tipple on holiday but remember that when your liver is processing alcohol it isn’t releasing glucose, meaning if you are on insulin there is a greater risk of hypoglycaemia. Even up to 24 hours following drinking, depending on how much you have drunk. Speak to your friends, families, or travel team about recommendations to your insulin regimen if you are planning on having a few drinks. Top tips are to avoid having alcohol on an empty stomach and consider a snack before bed.
Try to steer clear of too many sugary cocktails which could raise your blood glucose levels. Good lower carb options include wine, spirits with a diet mixer, and low sugar beers.
And whether you have diabetes or not the guidance is still the same…be drink wise…current guidance says to have no more than 14 units of alcohol per week spread over three or more days.
“It’s important for everyone to drink plenty of water in hot and humid climates, but even more so for those with diabetes. High blood glucose levels lead to decreased hydration in the body so people living with diabetes are particularly susceptible to becoming dehydrated, and even more so in the sunshine. Make sure to drink water or sugar free fluids throughout the day. Make sure you are keeping cool too…wearing light clothes and take breaks in the shade.
It’s human nature on holiday to feel like treating yourself – that’s the whole reason it’s a holiday. Whilst we like to relax our eating habits whilst we are away, try to keep some healthy habits in place to feel good and support diabetes management! Enjoy the fresh food available, enjoy grilled or BBQ’d food rather than fried, indulge in healthy wholegrains and keep active. And remember it’s ok to have the odd ice cream and dessert!
If carb counting in a new country and environment seems daunting, try out the Carbs and Cals app which has a brilliant library of foods from around the world.
Travelling can be stressful enough with so much to remember, but don’t get caught short without a handy solution for on-the-go hypo treatment. Lift Glucose Shots and Chews provide a fast-acting solution. The Shots provide a 15g dose of glucose, the amount recommended by NICE to deal with hypoglycaemia and the tablets give the required in four easy-to-chew tablets that will not leave a chalky taste in the mouth. The good news also, is that the Shots will even fit in your hand luggage, so you find reassurance even at 30,000 feet.”