Managing Type 2 Diabetes During Travel and Festivities

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Type 2 Diabetes During Travel and Festivities
Living with diabetes, hypertension or any other chronic disease requires you to do multiple things – track vitals, take medicines & stay on top of your health at all times. If this overwhelms you, switch to Phable – India’s No. 1 BP & Sugar Management App to manage your condition better. Take charge of your health and stay connected with doctors, order medicines and do a whole lot more from the comfort of your home.

Planning a vacation makes you excited? So does the arrival of festivals? We can understand and we feel the same. But if you are a Type 2 Diabetic, you need to make sure that you do not stop following a healthy lifestyle and are well prepared to manage your condition during travel and festivals. Read on for some handy tips to enjoy the good times while maintaining good health.

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What is Type 2 Diabetes? How is it Managed?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Tips for Travelling Safely With Type 2 Diabetes
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Tips to Manage Type 2 Diabetes During Festivals
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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What is Type 2 Diabetes? How is it Managed?

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Globally, over 90% of diabetes cases are of Type 2 Diabetes. With Type 2 Diabetes, your body is unable to use the hormone insulin efficiently, and your cells are unable to take in and utilise the glucose available in your blood. This leads to a rise in your blood glucose (sugar) levels and associated health complications. 

While some people can control their blood glucose sugar levels with lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin therapy to manage Type 2 Diabetes. 

A chronic condition such as Type 2 Diabetes requires constant monitoring and attention. Be it a vacation or a festival, you need to make sure that you stick to a healthy lifestyle and your diabetes management routine. Here are a few tips that will help you manage your blood sugar levels during travel and festivals.

Tips for Travelling Safely With Type 2 Diabetes

Visit Your Doctor Prior to the Travel

Visit your doctor a few days before the trip to make sure that you are fit to travel. You can discuss your daily plan during the vacation with your doctor. You can also ask the doctor for a letter explaining your condition and the medications or devices that you require to manage diabetes. 

The letter can be used by you during your travel or by a healthcare team attending to you in case of an emergency. You might also want to ask the doctor for an extra prescription in case you need more medications while you are away. 

Pack Insulin and Other Medications Needed

Make sure that you pack twice as many medicines as you may require during the trip. You can pack some in your handbag so that you have them with you at all times. 

While packing, make sure to include your oral medications, insulin and the syringes, blood and urine testing supplies, your ID, and diabetes identification card. Keep the labels on your medicines and supplies as you may need them during the security check if you are travelling by air.

Research on the Local Cuisines and their Compatibility with Your Diet

Though you are on vacation or travelling for other purposes, it is important that you keep a check on what you eat and drink. It is a good idea to look up the local cuisines in your destination area and plan your diet well ahead of your trip. 

You can make use of an online calorie counting website to estimate the carbohydrate and calorie count in the food items you choose to eat. Also, remember to check your blood glucose levels regularly.

Plan Your Daily Activities in Advance

While you are out exploring, remember that long days of sightseeing can drain your glucose levels and at the same time, lazy afternoons can elevate the same. Your activities while travelling are going to be different when compared to a regular day and therefore, you should make sure that you check your glucose levels more often throughout the day. Planning your activities in advance will help you balance your blood sugar levels.

Enquire About the Closest Clinics or Hospitals 

It is always better to be prepared for emergencies (such as hyperglycaemia or hypoglycemia), especially in a foreign place that you may not know too well. 

While you are collecting other details on the place you are planning to visit, make sure that you note down the details of the clinic or hospital that is closest to your place of stay. Keep these details on you at all times. 

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Tips to Manage Type 2 Diabetes During Festivals

Prepare Low-Fat and Low-Sugar Versions of Festive Foods

It is important for diabetics to eat healthy, even during festivals. You can still enjoy your favourite snacks and desserts by making healthier versions of them. Use less oil for snacks and make sure to limit the use of refined sugar while preparing sweets. 

While cooking, try baking or roasting instead of deep frying. For sweet food items, replace refined sugar with lesser quantities of honey or jaggery, use naturally sweetening agents like fruits, or opt for artificial sweeteners. Also, avoid refined/processed carbs and opt for more whole-grain foods.

Control Your Portion Size

Come festivals and you are ready to try all those dishes you don’t allow yourself to enjoy in your everyday life. But with diabetes, heavy feasting can turn out to be problematic. 

It can add on to your calories and carbohydrate intake, leading to a rise in your blood sugar levels. Therefore, make sure you control your portion size and eat rich foods in moderation.

Choose Healthy Beverages

Liquid calories are a sneaky aspect, something that you need to be cautious about. During festivities, you often tend to consume sugary beverages in the form of fruit juices or aerated drinks. These might not register as problematic to you, since they are just liquids. 

However, all that sugar can add up and adversely affect your blood glucose levels. Make sure to choose sugar-free and non-alcoholic beverages while you have fun. You can go for fruit juices without added sugar, herbal teas or plain drinking water.

Check Blood Sugar Levels Frequently

Your blood sugar levels vary throughout the day depending on your diet and activities. Therefore, it is important that you monitor your blood sugar levels frequently, especially during festivals. 

Self-monitoring of blood glucose is extremely crucial for those coping with too-high or too-low glucose levels. Even if you take your medication or insulin regularly, you need to monitor your sugar levels often and alter your diet and activities accordingly.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • A chronic condition like Type 2 Diabetes requires constant attention and management, even if it is a vacation or a festival.
  • While planning a trip, make sure you visit your doctor before the trip. Get a medical examination done and ask for a prescription in case you need extra medication while on the trip.
  • While packing, make sure to include your oral medications, insulin and the syringes, blood and urine testing supplies, and your ID and diabetes identification card. Also, remember to keep the labels on your medication.
  • Plan your diet and activities in advance and also make sure you have the details of the closest clinics or hospitals handy.
  • It is important for diabetics to eat healthy even during festivals. You can still enjoy your favourite snacks and desserts by making them healthier. Limit the usage of oil and refined sugar while preparing your delicacies. Also, make sure to choose sugar-free and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Control your portion size and try to eat rich foods in moderation. This will help in controlling a spike in your blood sugar levels after your meal.
  • While enjoying your festivals, do not forget to monitor your blood sugar levels frequently. This is crucial especially if you are coping with too-high or too-low glucose levels.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

While travelling, it is important to keep your insulin cool. Firstly, make sure that you carry it in your hand luggage and not in the check-in bags as they might freeze in extreme temperatures. Keep your insulin in the original vials and you can use an insulated cooler bag, or reusable ice gel packs to keep it cool. Avoid placing insulin directly over ice or ice packs. Once you arrive at the destination, unopened Insulin pens/cartridges/vials should be kept in the refrigerator.

It is not very clear if high altitudes lead to a rise and dip in your blood sugar levels. The majority of studies suggest that high altitudes can lead to the release of stress hormones that can cause a rise in your blood sugar levels. 

If you have Type 2 Diabetes, try to avoid foods that are high in oil, fat, and refined sugar. Also, avoid processed carbs and opt for foods that are low in carbs and high in protein, fibre, and other essential nutrients.

While travelling, make sure you carry some fasting-acting carbohydrates with you at all times in case of a hypoglycemic episode. This includes sugary foods or drinks that can immediately elevate your blood glucose after consumption. You can carry items such as cut fruits, fruit juices, candy, glucose tablets, glucose gels or dried fruits such as raisins and dates at all times while travelling. They are high in carbohydrates and can elevate your blood sugar levels readily. 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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