If you are thinking about driving anywhere over spring break or summer vacation with a loved one living with Type 1 Diabetes, than you are in luck!
In my last post, I mentioned all of the medical goodies that we pack to keep our daughters enjoying their vacation while diabetes is safely managed.
What I didn't talk about is all of the fun extras that you can pack in your car to keep your life a little less troubled by swinging blood glucose levels.
Here are five tips to help you navigate the open roads while managing type 1 diabetes.
Tip 1: Load Your Cooler
Over the years, we have realized that counting carbs at restaurants can be very tricky. Even though we are never without a copy of our beloved Calorie King, quite often, the food ingredients present a big challenge. All of that grease (fat) and sugar can lead to unpredictable blood sugars. Nothing worse than correcting, plummeting and correcting again. My family loves roller coasters, just not type 1 roller coasters!
Instead we pack small, disposable veggie trays, meet, cheese and crackers, water, crystal light, dried fruit and nuts, and simple sweet treats such as individually portioned Cracker Jacks or boxes of animal crackers. Since we do not often buy those last two items, they are extra fun on a road trip! We also love that the carbohydrates are posted right on the package. If you eat only half, it is easy for the kids to do simple math and dose for only half.
To make our lunch even more festive, I also pack a table cloth with matching plates and silverware. This helps us all to feel like we are doing something extra special and no one misses that famous golden arched burger place!
Tip 2: Pack Some Toys
After enjoying our picnic, we get out our Frisbee and Nerf football. This gives us a chance to stretch our legs and get in some much needed exercising. Sometimes, we play games around the rest stops where we compete for the longest still-standing jump, or who can make the record for hopping on one foot. Completely silly but helps to spur digestion and burn off some extra carbs. You can also pack jump ropes, Hyper-Dash, velcro-ball and sidewalk chalk for hopscotch. Anything goes at rest stops and chances are some other kids will want to join in on the fun!
Tip 3: Drink Water
My husband is a known avoider of stops on the highway. His favorite words are, "Didn't you go before we left the house?", even if that was hours ago! This method doesn't work well. By avoiding rest stops, we were also avoiding hydration. This puts a strain on the all important kidneys and can lead to dehydration, ketones and high blood sugars. Now, we encourage consumption and all of us feel better with fewer leg cramps and head aches to boot! Surprisingly, we end up arriving right about the same time anyway.
Tip 4: Check Those Blood Sugars
You may think that your loved ones blood sugars will remain stable while simply sitting in a car seat. However, that isn't necessarily the case. We have discovered that a fair amount of adrenaline hormone kicks in and our children tend to have higher than normal blood sugars. By the end of the day, all of those highs, tend to lead to very low blood sugars. Because this is difficult to predict, the best idea is to test frequently. We subscribe to the theory of testing at least one time every two hours (or more).
Tip 5: Taste Test New Fast Acting Glucose
With low blood sugars possible, this is the best time to try out some fun fast acting glucose at the various gas stations. My kids LOVE this! While they do not wish for the horrible feeling that comes with a low blood sugar, they do enjoy trying out new ways to correct. For this trip, our family discovered Angry Birds Gummy Snacks. From the nutrition facts label, 13 pieces equals 28 carbs. While we bought this particular package ahead of time, they know that they will have a chance to pick out a few more glucose treats along the trip route. As a bonus, we will save whatever is left over for our time spent walking around the parks or after spending a day swimming in the pool. Ultimately, low blood sugar will happen and we try our best to keep it kids first, diabetes second.
Hope you enjoy these car ride tips! And don't forget to save room in the backseat for us!