Carb Counting Series: Carb Counting On The Go
Rarely does life stop, even when you’re living with type 1 diabetes. The world keeps spinning, laundry piles up, work deadlines loom, and we need to keep on top of our health. Though little hiccups such as a pandemic may have temporarily upset your travel plans, borders are opening once more. For those living (and travelling) with type 1 diabetes, this means that carb counting gets to travel too.
Travelling And Counting Carbs
For some, one of the best things about travelling is tasting the local flavours. There’s no reason that living with type 1 diabetes should deprive you of experiencing these exotic delicacies. However, to avoid upsetting your blood glucose (BG) levels (and possibly the rest of your trip), you may need to be a little more mindful of what goes on your plate.
Carb counting when abroad can come with some challenges you don’t find at home:
- You’re more likely to eat out, which means you have less control over your food compared to cooking for yourself.
- The nutritional information of your foods and drinks may be less readily available.
- You may have fewer healthy alternatives at overseas eateries in certain countries.
- The language barrier may prevent you from discussing with your waiter about any dietary requirements or modifications.
4 Tips For Carb Counting On The Go
For those who have lived with type 1 diabetes for a while, carb counting may be second nature to you now. You may be able to glance at the food on your plate and more or less accurately estimate the carb content. You may also be experienced enough to understand how different carb-rich foods and portion sizes affect your BG. However, even if you’re not confident in carb counting, you can still partake in the local cuisine and enjoy yourself.
Here are some handy tips for carb counting while overseas. /p>
1. Practise carb counting.
Yes, practice makes perfect! Even practising carb counting with the food of your homeland can help. Figure out that this amount of white rice means your BG responds in this way, and you need this much insulin to keep it in check. This can help you when you’re overseas (assuming you’re travelling somewhere that serves rice).
2. Research the local cuisine.
Researching your destination (and its food) is a normal part of travel planning. If you’re heading off to Thailand, why not do some research about how many carbs are in an average serving of pad Thai noodles? If you’re jet-setting to Mexico, it can help to check online the carb content of a plate of chicken mole. Alternatively, you may even want to try some of these international recipes at home and observe how your BG responds.
3. Ask your waiter.
If you and your waiter speak entirely different languages, this may be difficult. However, it can’t hurt to try and ask whether the restaurant has any nutritional information available. If you’re particularly enthusiastic, you may even spend some time learning useful carb counting vocabulary in the local language of your destination.
4. Use apps or online calculators.
There is an abundance of useful apps and websites that can help you with carb counting. Make the most of these by asking your diabetes healthcare team for recommendations and downloading any useful apps before you go.
Remember that living with type 1 diabetes is no reason to miss out on all the exotic flavours your travel destination has to offer. It just may be a little more challenging than simply dining at home. However, the challenges of travelling in a foreign land is just part of the adventure, isn’t it!
- Diabetes UK. Learn About Carb Counting. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/. 2021. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/carbohydrates-and-diabetes/nuts-and-bolts-of-carb-counting/learn-about-carb-counting. (Accessed October 2022).