Traveling Abroad with Diabetes: Have Your Dolce and Eat It Too!

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Maria Horner

Maria shares her experiences and strategies for managing blood sugar levels while studying abroad

Like many young adults, I love to travel and will take any excuse to do so. Going into college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad; the moment I learned about my university’s semester program at their Rome campus, I was ready to go. However, traveling with diabetes isn’t always easy. The longer the trip, the more complicated it can be, and especially a trip to Italy, a country known for all of its carbohydrates!

What’s someone with diabetes to do about managing their diabetes while living in Italy?

Preparation is key!

One of the most important things I did to ensure my trip went well was put a lot of time into preparation. This means figuring out the quantity of diabetes supplies you’ll need, ordering them in advance, and finding space to pack it all. On my blog, I created a handy spreadsheet that helps you calculate exactly how much of each item you’ll need. You should start refilling your prescriptions as frequently as possible months before you travel, to make sure you stockpile enough supplies to last the whole trip. When I was preparing to go to Italy, my insurance only allowed me to order three months of supplies at one time, so I had to wait a few weeks before refilling my prescription. If you’re short on time, ask your healthcare professional if they can help you order extra supplies.

Preparation also means making back-up plans in case anything goes wrong, like talking through solutions to possible challenges. I have a great team of people that support me at home, including my parents, friends, and healthcare professionals, so before I left, I made sure I had several ways to contact them while abroad. Once I arrived in Rome, my host family, my friends, and the staff at my school became the people who could help me if I needed assistance.

Here are some things to talk about with your support team before you travel:

  • If I run out of a diabetes supply, what will I do? Can I get this supply abroad? Is having it shipped to me an option, considering what can be sent through the mail, what is allowed through customs, and the reliability of the mail system?
  • If I need to see a doctor or go to the hospital, can I find English-speaking doctors? Where is the closest hospital?
  • How does insurance work? Do I need to get special insurance while I am abroad?
  • How can I get in contact with my doctor? Can someone from my support team contact my doctor if I can’t?

Here’s a little story about how back-up supplies and my support team saved the day while I was in Rome:

About halfway through my semester, I was returning from Venice on an overnight trip and I arrived back in Rome early in the morning. I must have been sleep deprived, because I left my phone on the train! To anyone else, that would be very frustrating but manageable; most of the things people use their phones for, like email and messages, can be done on a computer. For me, it felt like a disaster, because my Dexcom G5 continuous glucose monitor (CGM) was tied to my phone. I love being able to check my blood sugar with just a glance at my phone, but without my phone, I couldn’t use my CGM. Because I’m used to constantly knowing my blood sugar, not having readings for an extended period of time was hard. Long story short, it was two days before I could get my phone back, and only with help from my support team in Rome. Thankfully, I had plenty of test strips and a blood glucose meter (BGM), so my back-up supplies came to the rescue.

Enjoy new foods, but do so in moderation.

After all my preparation, living in Rome still brought different challenges my way. Even though I wanted to experience all that Rome had to offer, I still had to keep blood sugar management in the back of my mind, especially during mealtime. Italian cuisine is full of carb-heavy foods, from pastries for breakfast to sandwiches, pizza, and pasta for lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, all these unknown carbs can make it hard to keep one’s blood sugar in range.

I didn’t want to deny myself all of the delicious, yet carb-rich, Italian foods. But I also didn’t want to drive my blood sugars out of my target range. I found that my best option was to eat these foods in moderation (just one or two bites), and fill myself up with delicious lower carb options, like vegetables and meat.

To prepare for a meal that may contain many carbs, make sure to dose extra insulin before the meal. If you end up eating more carbs than expected (which can easily happen with Italian food), the sooner you’re able to dose additional insulin – even if it means stopping in the middle of the meal to take insulin – the more quickly your blood sugars will respond.

Do some research and know what to order at restaurants.

When eating out at a restaurant, a good tactic is to order a meat, seafood, or vegetable-based dish as your main entree. Before you’re faced with ordering low-carb food in a foreign country, it’s helpful to know what you can expect from a local menu. Here’s what I learned in Italy:

  • Italian meals consist of several courses, including antipasto (appetizer), primi (the first course, typically pasta), secondi (the second course, usually meat or seafood), contorni (a side dish, usually a vegetable), and dolci (dessert).
  • Most people order either a primi or secondi as their main dish.
  • You can find the best low-carb options in the antipasti, secondi, or contorni sections of the menu.
  • If you have diabetes, ignore the primi section – it won’t be helpful for keeping your blood sugars in range.

One more tip: when you’re not sure what something is on the menu, it never hurts to ask the server or look up a picture online. This was important for me in Italy, since some of the meat dishes are breaded. I’ve included a list of my favorite low-carb Italian orders at the end of this article.

Share food with friends and family!

If you don’t want to miss out on experiencing all the pizza and pasta, get your friends to help you out. If they order a high-carb dish, ask if you can trade a few bites of your food for theirs – that way, you get to taste some pizza or pasta, while still keeping your meal low-carb. The same thing can apply to desserts, like gelato: ask a friend for a few bites, or offer to split one.

No matter what you decide to eat, just make sure you watch your blood sugars carefully, especially when trying new foods and guessing on insulin doses. Don’t let your diabetes stop you from exploring all the wonders of a new cuisine and culture, but also, don’t let impulsive food choices throw your blood sugars off. That balance can be hard to find, but do the best you can and enjoy the experience. Mangia bene (eat well)!

For more details, tips, and advice on studying abroad with diabetes, visit my blog, Winging It.

Here are some of my favorite low-carb Italian food orders, classified by course.

Antipasti (appetizers):

  • Insalata caprese (mozzarella, tomato, basil salad) – if you’re lucky, they’ll use fresh mozzarella di bufala, the most delicious cheese I’ve ever tasted!
  • Verdure grigliate misti (mixed grilled vegetables)
  • Affettato misto or salumi misti (mixed cold cuts)
  • Prosciutto (ham)

Secondi (entrees):

  • Tagliata/bistecca/filetto di manzo (beef)
  • Salsiccia (sausage)
  • Petto di pollo (chicken breast)
  • Vitella (veal)
  • Bollito alla picchiapo (beef stew in tomato sauce)

Contorni (side dishes):

  • Carciofo alla romana (roman artichoke)
  • Peperone (bell peppers)
  • Spinaci (spinach)
  • Insalata (salad)
maria horner

Image source: diaTribe

Maria Horner is a college student from Northern Virginia. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven, but she hasn’t let that hold her back! She had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Rome during the fall of 2018, and recently started a blog about her experiences, to help and encourage other people with diabetes that are interested in studying abroad. When she’s not in class, you can find her taking a dance course or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. She also loves travelling and going on adventures, one of her most recent adventures being skydiving!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Keto Mock “Little Debbie Be My Valentine Snack Cakes”

This content originally appeared on Caroline’s Keto Kitchen. Republished with permission.

I don’t know what it is about these little cakes that scream Valentine’s Day to me. They must have been at eye level at every store I went to with my mom as a kid or something, because seriously, these are the first things I picture when I think of Valentine’s Day. So when it was time to create a Valentine’s Day dessert, you bet I was going to recreate the Little Debbie Be My Valentine Snack Cakes!

For those of you who don’t know what these are, they’re basically a 2-layer vanilla cake with frosting between the layers and a pink white chocolate coating with a white chocolate drizzle. It does take a bit of work considering there’s a cake step, an icing step, and a white chocolate coating step, but I promise, it’s worth it, and none of the steps are hard.

Keto Mock "Little Debbie Be My Valentine Snack Cakes"

Share the love this Valentine's Day with this heart-shaped vanilla cake. Coated with white chocolate, this dessert is low-carb, filling, and delicious.

Cake

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup granular Swerve
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup psyllium husk powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 stick salted butter (melted)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp monk fruit juice concentrate
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Icing

  • 1 stick salted butter (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered Swerve

White Chocolate Coating

  • 7 oz cocoa butter
  • 1/3 cup solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream powder (I used the Nekstella brand)
  • 1/2 cup powdered Swerve
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • food coloring
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together all dry cake ingredients (almond flour, coconut flour, Swerve, baking powder, baking soda, psyllium husk powder).
  3. Add in all wet ingredients (eggs, melted butter, vanilla, monk fruit, sour cream), and stir well.
  4. Line a cookie sheet that has edges with parchment paper. (Mine was roughly 13″ x 18″).
  5. Spread the cake batter evenly on the parchment paper. (You can wet your hands with a bit of water to help spread it more easily.)
  6. Bake for around 16 minutes or until cooked. (The edges may start turning a little bit golden at this point).
  7. While the cake is in the oven, begin making your icing by mixing the softened butter with the vanilla and powdered Swerve until smooth.
  8. Remove cake from oven, and let cool completely.
  9. Using a heart cookie cutter, cut as many hearts as you can out of the cake. (I had a big heart cookie cutter (~3.5″), so mine only made 18 hearts.)
  10. Put icing between the hearts to make 2-layer heart “sandwiches.”
  11. Now it’s time for the white chocolate coating. In a large saucepan, melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil on a very low heat.
  12. Remove from heat and add the heavy whipping cream powder, powdered Swerve, vanilla and salt. Stir until smooth.
  13. Spoon some of the mixture into an icing bag (this will be the white drizzle, so you need to put some aside before you turn the rest of the white chocolate coating pink).
  14. Add pink food coloring to the white chocolate coating mixture and stir until smooth.
  15. Dunk each cake into the pink white chocolate coating. Place on wax paper after dunk and allow coat to settle (you can speed this up by refrigerating it). Once settled, repeat, dipping each cake 2-3 times total.
  16. Once final pink layer is solidified, cut the tip of the icing bag and drizzle the white chocolate on top of each cake.

The nutrition facts depend on your specific ingredients and how big your cookie cutter is. My cookie cutter was quite large (~3.5″), so each cake was 2 servings at least (very filling!).

Keto Mock “Little Debbie Be My Valentine Snack Cakes” Recipe

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Recipe Roundup: Food for Luck and Fortune in 2020

They say that what you eat on January 1 can shape how your year is going to unfold. Whether you believe in this superstition or you’re just looking for low-carb New Year meal ideas, here are some of your lucky — and diabetes-friendly — options. 

Peanut Chicken Zucchini Noodles

low-carb New Year food

Photo credit: Lisa MarcAurele

In China, people eat noodles on New Year’s Day for longer life. People with diabetes can still follow this practice without worrying about blood sugar spikes with this Thai-inspired zucchini recipe from Lisa of Low-Carb Yum. This dish is easy to prepare, loaded with vegetables, and quite tasty. Try to keep the zucchini as long as possible. As believed, the longer the noodles (zoodles), the longer the life. 

Crock Pot Cabbage Roll Soup

cabbage roll soup

Photo credit: Brenda Bennett

Eating cabbage on New Year’s Day is considered lucky in many parts of Eastern Europe. This vegetable signifies paper money, so consuming it on the first day of the year will help attract prosperity into your life. If you’re a person with diabetes who wishes financial blessings in 2020, check out this low-carb recipe from Brenda of Sugar-Free Mom. Brenda said this “is a comforting, hearty, but keto, low carb meal you can make any weeknight.”

Cuban Pork Tenderloin

Cuban Pork Tenderloin

Photo credit: Lisa Marshall

Another food associated with wealth is pork. Fortunately, it has zero carbohydrates, and you can find plenty of low-carb pork recipes on the web. One of which is this recipe from Lisa of 24/7 Low-Carb Diner. It is easy to prepare, although you need about 6-8 hours of marinade time. “This pork tenderloin is delicious–tender, yet it still holds together in slices,” Lisa said. 

Cornbread Muffins

Cornbread Muffins

Photo credit: Jennifer Shun

They say that cornbread symbolizes gold, so making it part of your New Year celebration may draw in financial abundance in 2020. If you worry about the high carbs, Jennifer of For Good Measure has got you covered. Her delicious cornbread muffins contain only 6g of carbs each. “My northern-inspired cornbread is denser, less cake-like, and not at all sweet. The perfect accompaniment to a savory soup or hearty salad,” she said. 

Does your family have any New Year food traditions? Please share it with us in the comments. 

Recipe Roundup_ Food for Luck and Fortune in 2020 (1)

Source: diabetesdaily.com

NRG Bites: the Perfect Sized Healthy Snack

Often times, I find myself standing in front of the pantry looking for something small and healthy that I could take on the go. As someone living with type 1 diabetes, “grabbing something” takes more thought then you’d like, as you want this snack to be kind to your blood sugars…and your waistline. Since NRG […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Review: The Only Bean – A High-Protein, High-Fiber, Low-Carb Alternative to Pasta

I gave up pasta pretty early on in my diagnosis. I would say pasta and pizza were the two things I just figured weren’t worth the hassle. I find them both to be fattening, heavy, and not good for my weight or my blood sugars, so I stay away. Up to now, I have found […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Recipe Roundup: Have Your Dessert (& Eat It Too!)

As we advance toward the holiday season at warp speed, having some low-carb dessert recipes in mind will help us stay on track during family and friend pot-lucks and celebrations while we enjoy our cake (or muffins or doughnuts), too! In this month’s Recipe Roundup, we share desserts that not only taste as good as […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Taking the Sting Out of Fingersticks: Lancets, Life Hacks and More

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.By Marcia Kadanoff with Katie Bowles Tips to reduce the pain and hassle of pricking your finger each time you check your blood sugar levels on a meter When I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes two years ago, I struggled quite a bit. I had […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

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