In a recent TIME magazine I read that 96% of Americans recognize the importance of taking vacation, yet we are taking fewer days off than in the past and leaving unused vacation days at year’s end.
Vacation is a time to de-stress, to break away from our everyday life and daily grind whether it be through a ‘stay-cation’ or by exploring new surroundings or making an annual trek to our favorite location. Having time away can help with peace of mind, and help us reconnect with family or to interests not fully explored with the demands of work and everyday life. I know I focus better, perform more effectively and work harder when allowed time to break away and rejuvenate both physically and mentally.
This may come from a week-long vacation or simply a long weekend without work vying for my attention.
For those that need reminders I encourage you to do the same. Carve out some vacation time in any manner you will find pleasurable and doable.
Use the tips given by Gabrielle Kemble, Fit4D Health Coach, who recently wrote about how to plan for summer travel, and frankly, travel at any time of the year.
What I would like you to think about is this…while I extoll the virtues of vacation remember that diabetes doesn’t take a vacation. It goes where you go. Taking a break is vital, taking a break from the daily grind of diabetes self-management is also refreshing. However, to take a complete break from lifestyle habits or your medication regimen may impact your diabetes not only for the time away but into the days and weeks following your time off. It may be difficult to reign in the excess of vacation, just as it can be difficult after the holidays. Remember your A1C is a 2-3 month average of your blood sugar which includes what might be a weeklong break from healthy eating along with any change in activity level. So, to have it both ways, vacation with diabetes control I encourage you to plan ahead and get the best for your diabetes management and get the most out of your vacation.
Consider how you may include occasional special treats while not over doing it. An increase in activity may help balance extra calories but we don’t burn as much as our mind assumes. And excess calories and carbohydrates can cause the hyperglycemia you’re trying to avoid. Pack snacks, and easy foods to prepare when you have kitchen facilities to reduce frequency of dining out – and you’ll save money, too! Indulge with conscious thought to do so but in a controlled manner. Share a dessert and if you plan to do this, skip the appetizer. Or, if you plan to stop at the creamery for a frozen dessert, pick something light for dinner and not the pasta special. Enjoy the sights and take an additional walk after your meal. Manage alcoholic beverages and limit snacking. Why stock the camper, fridge or car with a multitude of snacks we wouldn’t ordinarily have at home? Don’t use vacation as an excuse to eat junk food, fast food or too much of any food. Keep snacks out of reach while driving so as not to eat out of boredom.
These are tips to manage food intake and reduce hyperglycemia. On the other hand, for those who are more active on vacation, you’ll want to plan ahead to prevent the hypoglycemia that can come with an increase in physical activity.
Everyone’s needs and desires are different just as medications are. So, think about how your medications work, and discuss with your Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) or Health Care Provider (HCP) your vacation plans before leaving. They can help you learn how to make necessary adjustments with considerations for your medication regimen while on vacation to accommodate any change in sleep pattern, activity level, or food habits.
If you travel with a plan you are more apt to stick with it and be healthier for it, mind, body and spirit. Upon returning home you will feel better and ease into your routine more easily as well. I wish you all a fun, restful and healthy vacation!
Lori Muller RD, LD,
CDE Fit4D Diabetes Health Coach