Diabetes Management on Vacation

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • My family just returned from a two week road trip.  Yes, my husband and I are crazy enough to embark on a nearly 2,000 mile tour of California with a 4 ½ year old and 18 month old.  The four of us crammed into our new, smaller sedan and set off to visit our extended families.  I knew that, along with trying to make sure the kids were fed, comfortable, and relatively well rested, my diabetes was going to be along for the ride and demanding my attention.

    However, vacation, to quote one of the favorite movies (The Holiday) is a time to “vacate your life.”  Therefore, I did not intend to watch my carbohydrate intake as strictly as I normally do.  Some of our favorite treats in my husband’s hometown include pizza and a diner that boasts “the World’s Best Waffle” which I couldn’t miss out on. 

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    On the long drive from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area, I opted for a burger wrapped in lettuce which I’ve been pleased to see that more fast food places are offering.  For dinner at my brother’s the first night of our trip, we ordered in and I got roasted chicken and vegetables… all very respectable and diabetic-friendly foods.

    The wheels started to fall off of my diet plan the next night.  We spent the evening with my best friend and decided to indulge in one of our favorite college restaurants, an Italian place that serves amazing garlic rolls!  The only dish I’d ever ordered was pasta with chicken and spinach in a tomato broth, so I went for it.  It’s probably been years since I’ve had regular pasta.  What a treat!  Then, since we were on vacation with two kids, we went to a famous ice cream shop for dessert.  I had a delicious scoop of Roasted Almond ice cream. 

    My blood sugar has started off around 200 mg/dl and after bolusing fairly aggressively for dinner; it was still in the same range when we sat down for dessert.  I gave myself another hefty bolus and dug in.  Back at my friends’ place, my blood sugar started dropping quickly and it dawned on me that I had a lot of insulin on board and had just consumed a pretty high fat meal.   Needless to say, the timing of my insulin was terrible and I had to feed the insulin to keep my blood sugar up, which resulted in high blood sugar overnight.  This experience was a good reminder that the pump is much better at managing blood sugars after big meals than injections. 

    Happily, that was the only big diabetes snafu of our trip.  I did have some treats and loved every morsel of my pecan waffle, which is indeed, the “World’s Best”!  However, I tried to be more thoughtful about my boluses and tested often.  I saw more numbers in the 200s than normal, and even a few 300s, while on vacation.  However, I didn’t obsess about it.  Rather, I looked forward to coming home, buying and preparing my regular foods, and returning to my normal habits.  That’s one of the additional perks of taking a vacation, it makes home and routine feel familiar and appealing.

  • This week is my bi-annual endocrinologist appointment.  I’m interested to see what this two week vacation does to my A1c number.  I’m a little nervous!

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Published On: June 14, 2012