6 Tips for Eating Right with Diabetes While on Vacation by Caron Golden

Going on vacation but worried about maintaining your healthy eating plan in an unfamiliar environment? A little extra planning ahead can go a long way in enjoying your vacay while still engaging in healthy eating habits that support your diabetes management.

6 Tips for Eating Right with Diabetes While on Vacation Here are six tips to get your started:

1. Bring a cooler to store your own snacks on a road trip. Pack a variety of snacks like cut fresh or frozen/thawed fruit and veggies, individual bags of portioned almonds or roasted chickpeas, or plain popcorn. Balance these with protein-rich foods, like non-fat Greek yogurt cups, hardboiled eggs, and low-fat string cheese. Throughout your travels you should be able to find grocery stores that carry healthy snackable items to refill your cooler.

2. Pack healthy shelf stable snacks from home if traveling by plane, like portioned nuts and dried fruit or healthy trail mix that can help keep your blood glucose (blood sugar) balanced. If your flight includes a meal, see if you can order a diabetes-friendly meal ahead of time. Visit your airport’s website for food options in your terminal and check out their menus and nutrition details so you come prepared with a plan.

3. Research the menus of restaurants before dining out. Many restaurants now have menus available online and list ingredients and nutrition fact information for their items. When you arrive at the restaurant with a gameplan, you will feel more prepared and confident in making choices that align with your eating plan goals.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in a restaurant where the choices don’t fit your eating plan, order the healthiest dish available, eat smaller portions, and share the rest. Look for key words on the menus like “roasted,” “baked,” and “grilled” and choose balanced meals that provide a lean protein source, non-starchy vegetable, and small portion of starch to keep you satisfied and on track with your eating plan. Keep alcohol to a minimum as it is often filled with added sugar and calories.

4. Make the best carb choices you can. Prioritize choosing carbs that are minimally processed and nutrient-dense and focus on consuming small portions. Balance your meal and snack choices by including fruits and veggies and lean protein foods when you can. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for help or to modify a dish for you! For example, ask for your chicken sandwich to be served on a whole grain bun instead of white bread, and swap French fries for grilled veggies or a side salad with light dressing.

5. Read nutrition labels—especially on pre-packaged snacks and drinks. Water is your best option for a drink and staying hydrated, especially if you are in the sun or being extra active. You can also opt for 0-calorie drinks or fruit-infused water. Limit sugar-filled or alcoholic drinks. Swing by a local market to pick up some healthy snacks to keep with you and munch on during the day. This will help keep you full and satisfied.

6. Research the regional foods of place you’ve never been, whether domestic or abroad. Take advantage of online travel forums for dining tips, especially if visiting countries with a language you don’t know. Understanding what to expect and having the names of vegetable- and protein-forward dishes and eateries can help you plan your options and look forward to trying new foods in ways that fit your dietary needs.
Vacations are a time to disconnect, unwind, relax, and have fun. Do a little extra planning ahead of time and you’ll be able to continue prioritizing your health even in a new environment.  For more tips about healthy eating, sign up for the Diabetes Food Hub monthly e-newsletter.

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