Knowing the type of food that we are going to find in the destination, especially if it is a foreign country, is a fundamental aspect to take into account, in addition to following the meal times and anticipating the duration of travel .
“On trips, adapting to the diet of each country is extremely complex because different products are consumed than usual, cooked in other ways to which one is accustomed and, all this, only for a few days”, warns Serafín Murillo , advisor in nutrition and sports at the Diabetes Foundation and researcher at the Center for Biomedical Research Network on Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Diseases (CIBERDEM).
The Diabetes Foundation has developed the following recommendations for the diet of people with this disease:
In the pre-trip phase, it is advisable to find all the necessary information about the type of food culture existing in the country of destination. For example, people who use rapid insulin at every meal can find information on the carbohydrate content of some of the most common foods in each country.
Travel: Travel times can change unexpectedly due to delays or last minute changes, so it is advisable to have supplements that contain carbohydrates, in the form of liquid or solid food, such as bars or a small sandwich, to avoid problems at airport controls.
Diabetes education: One of the bases of diet in the treatment of diabetes is knowing how to recognize those foods that contain carbohydrates and to be able to differentiate them from those that practically do not contain them.
Carbohydrate servings: Carbohydrate servings can also vary from country to country. In Spain a serving contains 10 grams of carbohydrates, while in other countries such as the United States, Mexico or much of Latin America it contains 15 grams.
Learning to read food labels in other languages is essential to be able to identify the word carbohydrates or carbohydrates in the language of the destination country.
Amount of carbohydrates: It is important that the amount of carbohydrates is similar to that taken on a regular basis. With this, it is possible to avoid imbalances in blood glucose levels.
In those situations in which more physical activity is carried out than usual, such as a hiking route or visiting a big city with long walks, a somewhat higher amount of carbohydrates can be included, preferably in the form of low calorie foods such as fruits or small snacks, avoiding pastries. In this case, it is recommended to increase the number of glycemic controls to adapt the carbohydrate intake according to the activity carried out.
Another added difficulty is the way each food culture mixes or distributes food, which can make it difficult to identify. For example, in some countries food is not divided into individual portions, but is eaten directly from a main dish or source. In other places, small portions of many foods are taken (in the style of Spanish tapas), which makes it difficult to control the amount consumed. If possible, it is better to select the amount of food to be eaten and place it on a plate, as this will help to visually recognize and measure the amount.
During travel, contaminated food can be eaten, leading to gastrointestinal disturbances. This can cause a severe imbalance in blood glucose levels, with an increased risk of hypoglycemia. To avoid this, it is advisable to drink preferably bottled water and avoid raw foods (salads or fruits), as they could have been washed with contaminated water.