Many people with diabetes can feel limited in what they can do, and worry about how they will be able to enjoy things like travelling and eating at restaurants. At Sunnybrook’s latest Speaker Series, Diabetes Without Limits, nurse educator Leigh Caplan offered some guidance.
Diabetes can limit life choices when it’s not managed well, says Caplan, and good management includes many things. Staying active is important, and current guidelines call for 150 minutes of physical activity per week, or about 30 minutes per day. Healthy eating, good sleep and regular check ups are also key pillars. Caplan says improved outcomes are linked to those people who are most engaged in their own care, so don’t underestimate the power of good choices and planning ahead.
Caplan says she is often asked about how to navigate things like travelling and attending social events, and offers these helpful tips:
Rather than letting your diabetes become an excuse not to travel, remember that you often have choices when it comes to where you are going and how much you pack. It all comes down to having a plan. Before you leave:
- visit any necessary travel clinics and update your vaccinations
- consult with your diabetes team about meal planning, adjusting your medications around changing time zones, and stocking up with extra doses
- make sure you have travel insurance arranged before crossing the border
- arrange to wear proper identification (ie. MedicAlert)
- keep all medications in original packages and on your person
- stick to your routine as much as possible
- have a copy of your doctor’s note stating you have diabetes and need to travel with your medications
- inform airport security that you have diabetes and are required to carry insulin and supplies
- carry food and snacks
Attending social events
Staying socially engaged is important for overall health and wellbeing, and with some modifications and planning, there are no reasons to miss out on this aspect of your life:
- bring food items you can eat to social gatherings
- remember that it’s OK to indulge a little once in a while
- exercise that day
- eat prior to going out to prevent overeating
- share large restaurant portions with a friend or take half the serving home
- drink lots of water
- scan the buffet or menu carefully before you making your selections
- stop eating when you are full
For more tips for those living with diabetes, check out Sunnybrook’s most recent Speaker Series lecture.