Hiking the dunes

How to Manage Blood Sugar While on Vacation

In my experience, vacations are few and far between. But they are such an important part of maintaining good mental and physical health. No one is designed to be able to function at 110% for months on end without at least a short break to relax and refresh. However, sometimes vacations can make it extra difficult to effectively keep your blood sugar within your target range. I just returned from a short vacation myself, so I thought this would be a perfect time to discuss what you can do to make sure that your vacation is enjoyable without ruining all of the hard work you are doing to improve your blood sugars. Read on to learn my top 5 tips for managing your blood sugar while on vacation.

1. Plan Ahead

Now this tip comes very naturally to me, as my personality appreciates details, structure, and knowing what to expect. I can’t imagine going on a trip without some sort of plan for how I will spend my time, what I will eat, etc. However, for some people this may take a little bit more effort.

I’m not saying that you need to plan out every detail of your trip. In fact, when you get down to tip number five, you will see that I do NOT recommend that. But a little bit of planning can go a long way when you are trying to manage your blood sugar while on vacation. For example, this may mean investigating any of the following details before setting out on the road:

  • How often will you eat out? Will you have access to a refrigerator or a kitchen?
  • What kind of activities do you plan to do? Are there any activities you could do that are more active than laying on the beach? Are there any trails or other areas near by that allow you to get out and be active?
  • How much medication do you need to bring? How will you remember to take it?

These are just a few examples. I am sure that you could think of more questions that are specific to your life. The last thing you want to do is be caught by surprise or not have the resources that you need. 

2. Pack Your Own Food

This tip goes right along with tip number one. I am not saying that you should never eat out while on vacation. In fact, one of my favorite parts about vacation is trying cool new restaurants. But do you need to eat out at every meal? For the vacation I just returned from, we decided to eat out for dinners, but we packed breakfasts and lunches in our cooler. If you are staying in an Airbnb or another facility that has access to a kitchen, that is even better. Try cooking some meals while on vacation. It is much easier to manage your blood sugar if you don’t have to rely on restaurants and fast food for your meals.

Another thing to consider is the snacks that you will bring with you. Snacks are not a bad thing by nature, but if you tend to snack more than normal while on vacation, it is important to consider the types of snacks that you bring with you. Try bringing some of the following options for a healthier, low carb snack choice:

  • Bell pepper sticks
  • Cheese and turkey rollups
  • Nuts or trail mix (go easy on the dried fruit or chocolate)

3. Share Meals with Others

When you do choose to eat out, try splitting your meal with someone. The majority of the time, restaurant portions are incredibly oversized. Feel free to try new foods and enjoy the experience of eating out, but portion control can make a big difference when it comes to managing blood sugar on vacation.

It can also be beneficial to take your time with your meals. Enjoy the experience of the meal and the time with your loved ones. When you slow down and truly savor your meals, it not only helps you relax and enjoy your vacation, but it also helps slow down the digestion and absorption of your food, preventing big spikes in your blood sugar. As an added bonus, taking your time can help you recognize when you are full to prevent overeating.

4. Find Fun Ways to be Active

Now I recognize that for some people the last thing you want to do while on vacation is exercise. But what if you can find a fun way to be active that fits into your plans for your vacation? For example, I love to relax and soak up the sun on the beach. But on this last vacation, we decided to go to the beach that required a long hike up the dunes in order to access it. The view and the peacefulness of the beach was so worth it, and we got a good workout in at the same time.

Maybe you aren’t physically able to do that kind of a hike. There are plenty of other ways to incorporate exercise into your day. Check out my Top Ten Ways to Make Exercise More Fun.

5. Don't Over Plan

I know that this sounds like the opposite of tip number one. But I don’t mean that you shouldn’t plan ahead. Simply that you shouldn’t over plan. Part of the benefit of vacation is that it helps relieve stress and refresh your mind and body. If you plan every last detail and create an intense itinerary, you may unintentionally increase your body’s stress response. I have been guilty of this in the past because I like to know what to expect. But I have learned over the years that I need to plan some days/times to not have plans while on vacation.

All I am saying is don’t forget to leave time to relax. I have heard it said before that we tend to act more like human “doings” than human “beings.” Remember to focus on the “being” while on vacation and take time to clear your mind and rest.

Managing Blood Sugar While on a "Staycation"

What if you are taking a “staycation” instead? These same tips apply! You can plan your meals ahead of time, find fun ways to be active, and take time to relax and refresh!

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