Food during trips in people with diabetes

Planning a trip usually begins a few weeks or months before its start. You must have planned many things such as airline tickets, route, hotels or even renew the passport. In the case of people with diabetes, it is also impossible to think of a few extra care, because diabetes is also going on a trip.

On trips, adaptation to the meals of each country is extremely complex, since different foods are regularly consumed, cooked in other ways to which you are used and all this only for a few days.

The preparation

You need to start by recalling that one of the bases of food in the treatment of diabetes is to recognize those foods that contain carbohydrates and to differentiate them from those that hardly contain carbs. On trips, this represents a challenge because variations in food are constant and the decision-making process becomes a time of some stress. How to decide on the dose of insulin if you do not know what you’re eating?

Therefore, in the pre-trip, it is advisable to seek all necessary information about the type of existing food culture in the country.

Sometimes we turn to topical, like that in China only eat rice, Japanese sushi or Italian pasta or Spanish gazpacho and potato omelet. Influenced by many factors, and depending on the area to which you are traveling, the type of accommodation or type of trip, you will enter one or the other type of food and preparations.

For those who use insulin quickly at each meal, on the internet, it is possible to find some information about the content portions of carbohydrates of some common foods in each country.

Learning to read food labels in other languages is essential to identify the word carbohydrate or carb in the language of the destination country. So read nutrition labels correctly to avoid surprises.


During the trip by car, train, boat or plane, take any precautions necessary in reference to diabetes. The schedule may change unexpectedly due to delays or last-minute changes, so it is advisable to have at hand a supplement containing carbohydrates, in the form of liquid or solid foods such as sticks or a small snack to avoid problems in controls at airports.


Meals in hotels or restaurants usually include a larger amount of food than is taken in the day. Pay attention to the imbalances that this may cause. It is important that the number of carbohydrates is similar to that taken regularly. This enables to avoid imbalance in the levels of blood sugar.

However, in situations where it is performed more physical activity than the usual, as a path trekking or visiting a big city with long walks, you can include a lot of carbohydrates somewhat higher, preferably in the form of low-calorie foods like fruits or small sandwiches, avoiding pastries. In this case, it is recommended to increase the number of glucose controls to adapt the intake of carbohydrates depending on the activity being performed.

One of the already mentioned objectives is to maintain consumption carbohydrate similar to that performed regularly. To achieve this, at every meal you need to select the same food groups than regular food.For example, a lunch or dinner should include vegetables, protein foods such as meat or fish, and flours as rice, pasta, potatoes, vegetables or bread. It will end with a fruit.

The type of flour (the main source of carbohydrates) may vary from one country to another. The rice, the wheat, and corn are present in the vast majority of countries around the world, the rice is the most present in Asian countries or wheat or corn in European and North American countries. But other cereals like millet, more widespread in South America and in India, the bulgur, typical of Middle Eastern, used in preparing the tabbouleh, the teff, basic cereal in Ethiopia, or quinoa increasingly present in Europe, is typical of some countries in South America. The content of carbohydrates is very similar in all these cereals, but the difference is that some like teff and quinoa are much less refined, pass blood much more slowly.

Another difficulty is the way each food culture mixtures or distributes food, which can hinder identification. For example, in some countries, food is divided into individual portions but eaten directly from a large dish or main source. Elsewhere, small portions of many foods (Spanish-style tapas) making it difficult to control the amount consumed.

If possible, it is best to select the amount of food that is going to take and place on a plate, as this will help to recognize and measure (visually) the amount.

Finally, during trips, you should be careful when taking food that may be contaminated as they could lead to gastrointestinal disorders including vomiting and diarrhea. This can cause a serious imbalance in the levels of glucose with an increased risk of hypoglycemia. To avoid this, it is recommended to exercise caution, taking water preferably bottled and avoiding raw foods (salads or fruits) since they may have been washed with contaminated water.

In short, travel is a passion for many people. People with diabetes can and should keep that hobby, always taking some precautions. Pre-planning is essential to avoid problems and get fully enjoy the experience.

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