Type 1 Diabetes: 5 Tips to Conquer Your Next Camping Trip

What is it about camping that allows us to shrug off all of our habits surrounding food? I’m not alone, right? When I camp with my family there are endless amounts of chocolate-chip muffins or M&M laced rice krispie treats hiding in the bear box. Yum! I typically steer clear of these treats and consider them as just that: an occasional treat. On vacation mode, my self-control wanes right along with all blood glucose control.

After missing out on a day adventure last summer because I felt ill from too many indulgences, I decided this year I will shift my behavior to foster a positive wellness routine while camping. I will be mindful with food and movement. Okay, great. So how does one do that?

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Type 1 diabetes management while camping is all about planning.

Scheduling an entire day of vacation the night before can be a total downer, but spontaneity to a type 1 diabetic can create huge health challenges. I do my best to articulate to my friends and family how unplanned activity can be a sticky situation and how food and exercise have an effect on blood glucose. Removing unknown variables really helps maintain a safe and in-range blood glucose levels. I hate feeling limited because of T1D, so planning ahead usually keeps me hiking, kayaking, and kicking-back with everyone else.

Hydration, hydration, hydration.

  • C’mon – do I need to explain this one?
  • Beyond Type 1 wrote a helpful article that addresses hydration as well as other camping essentials.

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Align nutrition goals by meal planning and preparation at home.

  • Use tried and true recipes – skip new recipes that you don’t know how your body (blood glucose) will react to.
  • Pre-chop/dice/cut fruits and vegetables at home to reduce the prep time at camp.
  • Pre-cook vegetables that will reheat well on a skillet.
  • Pack a few extra healthy treats to reach for when mom brings out the brownies.
  • Pack on-the-go meal options, so while everyone else is preparing a sandwich for the road, there is a more nutritious, less carbohydrate heavy option waiting.

Relax at bedtime by eating dinner early.

Even with the best intentions blood glucose is hard to control outside a normal routine. I hate waking up in a dark tent, panicked that my blood glucose is low, and feeling around for a flashlight to find my meter. I feel less stressed if I eat early, even if it’s well before everyone else, so that most of the insulin is out of my system and my blood glucose levels are relatively stable by bedtime.

Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy yourself.

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As I move through the camping season this year, I will take note of other ways I stay centered in nature and report back. There are so many great resources online that tackle what to pack and how-to remain safe while traveling. I encourage you to give those a read if you are a camping newbie. For all of you outdoor enthusiasts, what tools have you implemented to help you balance blood sugar control with enjoying your vacation to the fullest?

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