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Topic: diabetic on the trail, what can diabetics eat on the trail< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 03 2009, 8:24 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i am a new diabetic and all the trail foods are loaded with carbs for energy. however diabetic can only have about 45 to 50 carbs per meal. so where do i find extra energy that will not effect my blood sugar? any help would be great

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 03 2009, 8:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

PM 4wheelbob and GoBlueHiker.  Both are very experienced with diabetes on trail.

Sure doesn't slow them down any.  :;):
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 03 2009, 10:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Look for better carbs, for one.  Sometimes that means making your own snacks (which isn't a bad habit anyway, even for non-diabetics).  I made a little page about backpacking with diabetes a couple years back... I haven't updated it in awhile, but maybe it can help you out:

http://www.rainforesttreks.com/diabetes.asp

By the way, I've personally found that on a backpacking trip of any strenuous nature, I handle carbs/sugar easier than at home.  My metabolism runs higher, so it doesn't effect me as much to eat a bit of sugar.  However, I still stick with complex carbs as much as possible, to give me a more sustained energy level and avoid lows.

It can definitely be done.

BTW, are you Type 1 or Type 2?  It makes a bit of a difference.

- Mike


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 12:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What kind of backpacking are you doing?  How strenuous and sustained?  Are you type 1 or type 2?

My husband is a type 2 diabetic, and his blood sugar is kept under control with medication.  (He never had extreme sugar levels.)  When we go backpacking, he stops his meds and eats what he wants because the exercise keeps his blood sugar low.  We do eat more protein than we used to while backpacking, to keep the hunger at bay, but otherwise he eats what I do, including cookies and granola bars.  Obviously, this won't work for everybody.  We do a lot of long hikes.  Soon after he was diagnosed, he carried a meter to test his sugar levels to see what was happening, based on exercise and diet, and his solution was as described.  He has only had a sugar crash a couple of times (which led to his stopping the meds while on long trips), and while he was testing was never really out of control.  YMMV

On my first AT thruhike, I knew someone who was a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic, insulin dependent.  He had a very hard time at first adjusting his food intake to his activity.  He'd do 15 miles  one day and only three the next.  After a while he learned how his body responded to the foods he was eating and to the exercise.  He think he finished his thruhike.

Bottom line - it may take some experimentation for you to see what foods give you energy, and which ones send your blood sugar through the roof.
(e.g. my husband does great with pizza, but Chinese food sends his sugar levels soaring - but then he likes the sweeter dishes.  He's okay with ice cream, but definitely not cake.)
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 8:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Energy is really a feeling related to muscular exertion. Lift weights and lose bodyfat, and you will feel more energetic. Better shape is the key there.

As for calorie intake, balance and timing is the key. Graze, all day, with lower sugar carbs, fat cals, and maintain higher protein levels. Fat carries twice as many calories as carbs or protein per gram. It's also a usable form of calories for aerobic activity like hiking. Either way, proper eating protocol for a diabetic or anyone else is to eat smaller, balanced meals.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 8:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would agree with Spirit Walker. I have type 2 and have had it for about 12 years. I can get by eating more when I am hiking or any other sport. I still eat better (not junk) foods but I can get by with more. After a while you will understand what your body is telling you and when you need some carb input or if you are eating to much. Remember all foods turn to sugar in your body you just need to chose the good foods.
2 years ago my son and I planned a trip to Colorado for a 3 day backpack trip. My doctor changed my meds right before I went. NOT a good idea. The new medicine made me very sick and I could not eat anything. My sugars went way to low but I couldn't eat and keep anything down. I also ran out of energy which kept us from getting to where we wanted to on the trip.
So keep in mind when ever the doctor changes your meds or even the amount you take it is going to effect you. It might take just a few days to get use to it but it will effect you.
I still do a lot of outdoor activities and I always have glucose tablets in my back pack. I tell who ever I am hiking with how I will act when I need them. Sounds crazy but some times you don't know how weird you are getting, let them know what to look for so they can help you. You can do just fine you just have to learn how your body talks to you.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 9:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(The Nature Boy @ Dec. 04 2009, 8:45 am)
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Energy is really a feeling related to muscular exertion. Lift weights and lose bodyfat, and you will feel more energetic. Better shape is the key there.

As for calorie intake, balance and timing is the key. Graze, all day, with lower sugar carbs, fat cals, and maintain higher protein levels. Fat carries twice as many calories as carbs or protein per gram. It's also a usable form of calories for aerobic activity like hiking. Either way, proper eating protocol for a diabetic or anyone else is to eat smaller, balanced meals.

I have to agree with you here Nature Boy.... especially in the case of Type 2 diabetes as far as the body fats go. Many Type 1's don't have the body fat issue. The diabetic way of eating is very healthy for anyone trying to acheive or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Good grains that are high in fibre, legumes, veggies, lean protein and portion control are key. I think why I felt better hiking (pre-diabetes diagnosis) is that we always had a grazing attitude on the trail. Finally when I started to employ that at home general health has been way better, I have more energy and all that.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 9:07 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Outamatches @ Dec. 04 2009, 8:58 am)
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I still do a lot of outdoor activities and I always have glucose tablets in my back pack. I tell who ever I am hiking with how I will act when I need them. Sounds crazy but some times you don't know how weird you are getting, let them know what to look for so they can help you. You can do just fine you just have to learn how your body talks to you.


Outamatches is correct and lows can seem to others like you are intoxicated or not all there. I carry Dex4 with me all the time and on the trail I carry a gel glucose that another person could administer if I passed out.

Frequent monitoring is very important too. I have very tight diabetic control now. Upon diagnosis in January my A1C was 17.5% and I've managed to keep it between 5.2% and 5.6% consistently since then. At home I check my blood glucose 6 to 7 times a day and on the trail as many as 10 times a day. Those checks help me maintain a good blood glucose range and prevent severe lows from happening... although I did have a couple good crashes in the wilderness. Bryan just loved having to get the bear bag down from the tree at 3 am.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 4:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm Type 2 also.  I posed this question to my health care professional before going bping.  She said I could eat pretty much anything I wanted because it would all be absorbed into the muscles.  I never bothered to take my glucose levels while on the trail after hearing this.  I did notice on a couple of occasions that my levels must have sropped too low as I got jittery.  At these times I just munched on a granola bar and that took care of it.
FYI my A1C upon diagnosis was 12.7.  Six months later it was 5.9.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 7:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

thanks for all the input. i am type 2 on meds and inbetter shape than alot of diabetics that i have met. i think i can carb up as long as i am active, keeping in mind that the carbs are complex.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 7:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Chance @ Dec. 04 2009, 4:47 pm)
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thanks for all the input. i am type 2 on meds and inbetter shape than alot of diabetics that i have met. i think i can carb up as long as i am active, keeping in mind that the carbs are complex.

The "i thinks" can be cleared-up with proper daily testing, of course. I think that is an even bigger point here. It won't always be the same, thus the need for consistent testing throughout the day, along with avoiding spikes and valleys.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 7:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

ya thats  for sure i test about two to four times a day just to see what food does to me at rest.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2009, 11:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Stress, medication such as Advil, lack of sleep, dehydration and all sorts of things can affect the numbers too. Comfortable social situations and alcohol can bring your numbers down sometimes. It's actually quite fascinating the types of outside factors that can affect your levels. Even losing 5 to 10 pounds as a type 2 can make your numbers change.

Also, if you go low in the middle of the night, which you probably won't do on meds (I've only had that issue when on injections), you may find that you have higher morning/fasting blood glucose. The liver kicks in to help your body from going hypoglycemic and produces chemicals to up your blood sugar.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 06 2009, 12:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(LaurieAnn @ Dec. 04 2009, 9:09 pm)
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Also, if you go low in the middle of the night, which you probably won't do on meds (I've only had that issue when on injections), you may find that you have higher morning/fasting blood glucose. The liver kicks in to help your body from going hypoglycemic and produces chemicals to up your blood sugar.

Yup, if you're having morning highs (numbers higher than when you went to bed), that's one thing to look out for.  That's happened to me a number of times... I went low during the night (unknowingly) and awoke with high sugars (sometimes in the 300s).  Reducing my bedtime insulin fixed it, increasing it only made the problem worse.

Anyhoo, that may be more of an issue with Type 1 diabetics... hopefully it doesn't affect you too much.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 07 2009, 7:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

my blood sugar is normally high in the am but usually drops before breakfast, i guess due to the lack of activity during the night.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 08 2009, 4:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Lots of good advice here, with Mike's page being very informative, and LaurieAnn mentioning glycemic index foods being important.  Like LaurieAnn said, eating like a diabetic is good for anyone, because you will pick foods that turn to glucose more slowly.  

I'm type 2, since about age 50, controlled by oral meds.  I ride a bike to work everyday which helps me control weight, and burns up blood sugar. On the trail I eat homemade recipes, a lot of them obtained from this site.  My dinners are pasta and rice based, and way tastier than freeze dried.  Here is a list of the recipes from my 8 day trip in August.  My snacks ended up being pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, cheese, ritz crackers, crystal light, summer saugage.  

One thing I do to accomodate diabetes is take a set of antibiotic pills, to take if I get an infected blister on day 4 of an 8 day trip.  Infections don't heal in diabetics like they do in non diabetics, and can be very dangerous.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 08 2009, 5:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I just wanted to say god bless all of you. I had gestational diabetes (obviously just during pregnancy) and it was a total life adjustment for me, especially the checking my sugars 4 times a day. I am amazed and humbled by what diabetics have to go through in order to maintain and sustain.

Now that I have delivered, both me and my little girl have normal blood sugars. My experience as a diabetic (although short term) has me gearing up for a lot of weight loss and a healthy life style before my next pregnancy!

My hat is off to all of you who continue to manage your condition!


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 08 2009, 6:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Idaho Bob... I also carry antibiotics and I take extra care of my feet. Canoe trips are actually worse than backpacking trips because I am often in and out of the water.

Van... thanks for that... sometimes diabetes can appear later on in those who were gestationally diabetic so it is really important to take care of yourself and it sounds like you are on the right path when it comes to that anyway. Dealing with diabetes, even gestational diabetes, in pregnancy is a proper pain. I hate having to take shots 3 times a day (although my dose is nominal at the moment).


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 08 2009, 9:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Idaho Bob thanks for the link i subscribed and apprecitate the meal plan. also thanks for the reminder about feet i almost forgot.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 09 2009, 12:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My doc gave me a prescription for antibiotics, which I fill before a long backpack.  I used them on the 8 day trip, and my infected blister cleared right up.  I have also learned to clip my toenails to minimize toe to toe rubbing, and put a piece of tape on a toe where its neighbor always rubs.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 09 2009, 8:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I find Kurotex (Moleskin) works really well to prevent blisters. The other thing I do is put the legs back on my convertible pants if I am going to be bushwacking or on a rarely used trail. This prevents little scratches from the tree branches. I also use an antibiotic cream on any cuts.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 12 2009, 12:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I found this info interesting as my 22 year old nephew was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  

We are already talking about hiking Half Dome next year and, although all the nephews and friends are now adults, my husband and I will still be, sort of, "in charge" on  these hikes.  I guess that we will have to have a briefing of what symptoms to watch for before we go.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 12 2009, 7:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

if he starts to look and act drunk its time for action

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(hikerchick395 @ Dec. 12 2009, 10:51 am)
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I found this info interesting as my 22 year old nephew was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  

We are already talking about hiking Half Dome next year and, although all the nephews and friends are now adults, my husband and I will still be, sort of, "in charge" on  these hikes.  I guess that we will have to have a briefing of what symptoms to watch for before we go.

My husband has type 1, and I lived with a woman for three years who was also.  For both of them, the early symptoms are grouchiness and fatigue.  When things are getting serious, they might act goofy, angry, or lethargic.  They don't always have the presence of mind to realize what is happening, and that they need to eat.

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(Idaho Bob @ Dec. 08 2009, 9:48 pm)
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My doc gave me a prescription for antibiotics, which I fill before a long backpack.  I used them on the 8 day trip, and my infected blister cleared right up.  I have also learned to clip my toenails to minimize toe to toe rubbing, and put a piece of tape on a toe where its neighbor always rubs.

Diabetics are also more susceptible to fungal infections, which I think is the largest cause of blisters on feet for hikers, though commonly overlooked and not understood as such. It would seem like a good habit to use some preventative maintenance there as well, before getting any kind of wound. I use antifungal cream when the skin on my feet starts to get a little thick and dry, for a few days to get the skin back into supple, elastic and healthy condition. It happens often in the late summer when it's hot and I'm wearing the same sandals daily. There's been quite a bit of discussion about that here previously, but not necessarily in the context of diabetes.

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Well, dragging up an old post, but this definitely has good information.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 a couple of months ago. I have been thinking about all the recipes that I found on here and figured they were out of the question. But since I am not the first person to have it, there are others that have done the research and shared their experiences. So I can learn from that. It is good to know what I am still able to get out and hike.

Thanks for all those that have offered their advice.
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(IAJeff @ Apr. 30 2014, 10:28 pm)
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Well, dragging up an old post, but this definitely has good information.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 a couple of months ago. I have been thinking about all the recipes that I found on here and figured they were out of the question. But since I am not the first person to have it, there are others that have done the research and shared their experiences. So I can learn from that. It is good to know what I am still able to get out and hike.

Thanks for all those that have offered their advice.

IAJEFF,
 If you are looking at freeze dried foods check out Alpineaire freeze dried foods. I saw these up at Midwest Mountaineerings Spring Outdoor Expo and sampled some of them. They taste pretty good and are lower in Sugar than some of the other brands. Some had 6 or less Grams of sugar in them.
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