Eating Abroad With Diabetes
By The Adventure Worthy Team on July 27th, 2009
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to use blood glucose, also known as blood sugar. Glucose is necessary to the body as it is what fuels the cells of tissue and muscles. Actually, it’s the body’s main source of energy. When people are diabetic this means they have too much glucose in the blood, which can lead to serious problems with their health. Both type 1 and 2 diabetes is chronic and needs constant attention.
The common symptoms associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can include increased thirst, extreme hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, frequent urination and frequent infections that often affect the skin, gums, bladder or vagina.
Typically, diabetes type 1 affects children and adolescents, although it can develop at any age. Type 2 diabetes is the more common type and is often preventable. This type can affect anyone at any age.
Diabetes, depending on the type, normally require blood sugar levels to be checked and either oral medication or insulin to be taken. It’s also very important, no matter if the individual has type 1 or 2 that they exercise regularly, manage their weight and eat a healthy diet. Diabetics are not put on a certain diabetes diet, as there is none. What diet they do need to follow is one of foods that are highly nutritious and low in calories and fat along with avoiding sweets and reducing animal products.
When traveling abroad, diabetics don’t have to worry about eating if they stay focused on eating healthy foods. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are foods that are low in fat and calories and if choosing a good variety of these, there is no need to feel deprived from enjoying delicious well rounded meals. Eating at buffets can allow the individual to enjoy a number of foods that are low in fats and calories and highly nutritious. Carrying around cheese crackers or peanut butter crackers can help keep glucose levels stable or carrying small boxes of raisins can help provide a good snack, especially when it’s hard to find a place to get something nutritious to eat.
Travelers with diabetes must check their blood sugar often as the stress of traveling and the change in normal routines can cause problems with glucose levels.
Having saltine crackers kept close by can come in handy if getting proper food is difficult and blood sugar levels act up. Saltines can stabilize the levels and not disturb the appetite. Also carry extra test strips and test often as many countries abroad have hidden sugars or carbs added to their foods that could cause a problem with blood sugar.
No matter where the travel designation may be, there are healthy nutritious meals that are offered all around the world. Thai food mainly consists of vegetables with lean meats. Asking for extra helpings of vegetables and brown rice can provide a highly nutritious meal. Japanese food such as sushi is a very good choice of food for diabetics, although ask for it without rice added. Visiting Italy can be more difficult when it comes to eating foods low in calories since pasta is their main diet. There are restaurants there that do include healthy choices on their menus such as salads or mozzarella cheese with grilled vegetables. If going to China, although they cook with plenty of vegetables, they also tend to use MSG and fats that are not healthy. Choosing a Chinese dish that has chicken with low sodium can be a healthy meal or when visiting Mexico and dining at a Mexican restaurant choose beans and perhaps fajitas that are loaded with vegetables, but avoid to many tortillas.
If the diabetic feels like their food choices are too limited for eating properly while vacationing abroad, a good option would be to find a fresh market that sells a good selection of vegetables and fruits and find a place to grill along with some fresh chicken or fish with fresh fruit for dessert. This is an ideal meal and can be fun to do while vacationing. Or make some sandwiches that consist of turkey, chicken, tuna or lean roast beef, which can easily be made in a hotel room or outdoors at a picnic area.
Foods that should be avoided whether at home or traveling abroad are foods high in saturated fats such as butter, cheese and fatty meats. Also avoid salty snacks and use different spices to replace the flavoring of salt when cooking. Eat plenty of foods high in fiber such as whole wheat breads, vegetables and high-fiber cereals and try not to miss meals. When dining out while abroad try to choose restaurants that have a wide selection of dishes to choose from. If portions are large, eat half and take the other half back to the hotel if there is a refrigerator there. And when eating at a restaurant, ask the server about the ingredients and the cooking methods.