As a Diabetic (or a parent of a diabetic child), you know that keeping a routine helps control blood sugar. But you may also know that any vacation is far from routine! And although you might be on vacation, it doesn’t mean you get a vacation from your Diabetes. In fact, you will need keep a closer eye on your blood sugar levels as Walt Disney World can wildly throw you out of your routine, which can cause major blood sugar upsets to occur. Here’s some helpful tips for Type 1 Diabetics on keeping blood sugar in good control (Type 2 Diabetics – most of these tips are applicable to you too!):
Test often and wear a CGM if you have one. Walking will lower your blood sugar, eating will obviously raise it, and sun exposure can lower your blood sugar, especially if you don’t typically live in a warm Florida-like climate. Testing more often is key! Carry your glucometer with you at the parks! Yes, it’s one more item weighing down your park bag, but it’s one of the most vital things to have! Pack twice as many lancets and test strips as you think you may need.
If you wear in insulin pump and have the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), please WEAR this invaluable tool at Disney! A CGM will send blood sugar readings to your pump every 5 minutes and alert you if you’re going too high or too low. When you’re walking all over the parks and distracted by all of the excitement, it’s easy to not recognize the initial warning signs of going low. A CGM will alert you before you’re too low to help yourself.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Diabetics need MORE water than the average park tourist. Water helps insulin absorb and be distributed more evenly throughout the body. If a diabetic is dehydrated, or close to it, insulin absorption is touch and go. With all of that walking and being in the hot sun, dehydration can happen quickly! Carry a water bottle with you. Yes, it’s another item to weigh you down… but it will keep you going strong!
Always have a source of sugar WITH you (even at night!) Exercise (even just 30 minutes a day) can affect your blood sugar levels for 24 hours following physical activity. If you increase walking from 30 minutes a day, to suddenly walking for 6 – 10 hours a day, your blood sugar dropping is almost inevitable! Keep glucose tabs, juice boxes, or another source of sugary snack with you at all times. Your blood sugar can drop so quickly you may not have time to wait in line to purchase a sweet drink or snack to give you the boost you need.
Keep a source of sugar on your nightstand as well! Many times I’ve woken up with very low blood sugar during the night after having an active day in the parks. Having a juice box right there on the nightstand is easy access to a quick fix.
Consider setting a temp-basal on your Insulin Pump, or decreasing your insulin-carb ratio. To help avoid blood sugar lows, consider setting a temporary basal rate on your insulin pump, this may help you avoid going low too quickly, or may eliminate low blood sugars completely! If you’re not a pump wearer, consider decreasing your insulin-to-carb ratio, especially if you know you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Consult with your Doctor on what your temp-basals or adjusted carb-ratios should be. If you feel comfortable adjusting your own settings, try it out. If you don’t feel comfortable adjusting your own pump settings – you can learn! Ask your Doctor’s office if they hold pump education seminars or know of a group that does. Many pump manufacturers will hold free classes on how to use the different functionalities on an Insulin Pump.
Try to Stick to your Diet! Disney if full of sweet treats, good food, and temptations left and right! But I’ll say it again, YOU may be on a Vacation, but your Diabetes is NOT. Type 1 Diabetics, if active in the parks, get a little bit more wiggle room here. Indulging in a treat here and there, combined with all the extra walking, may not affect your blood sugar much at all. Type 2 Diabetics may need stick to more closely to their prescribed diets, as they don’t typically have the blood sugar fluctuations that Type 1’s have.
When you keep your Diabetes under Control, you’ll have more control over your WDW Vacation! Keeping your blood sugar within Target Range is key on any vacation! If your blood sugar drops too low, you’ll need to stop everything for a quick snack or drink until you feel fully recovered. On the other hand, if you eat too much or stray from your diet, your blood sugar may rise too high, resulting in headaches, tiredness, crankiness, possibly nausea – who wants to feel that on vacation? Remember, it takes longer to recover from hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) as it does to recover from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar.)
Bottom Line: Test often, drink plenty of water, keep snacks with you for emergencies, and try to stick to your diet!
Terri is a Type 1 Diabetic, wears an insulin pump, and enjoys touring Disney World with little to no Diabetic “distractions.” The advice in this article is just that – advice. Please talk with your Doctor about making any insulin or medication adjustments that would best match-up with your specific needs. If you have any questions for Terri, feel free to contact her via her Facebook page WDW Hints.
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