My wife and I went on a cycling vacation for ten days through Tuscany. We just got back a couple days ago, and we’re slowly adjusting to the time change. Though Tuscany is only six hours ahead of us, it feels like I’m completely upside down.
As I mentioned, I have tip-toed up to the paleo diet by observing the foods that make my blood sugar go crazy and avoiding them. The paleo diet is pretty simple to follow — eat fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish. Being in Italy, I was at first nervous that there would be nothing to eat but bread, pasta, and tiramisu. Well, I was very wrong. Since we spent our time in Tuscany, we were served a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, wild game and fish. Although cheese is not in the paleo diet, I find that cheese is pretty friendly to my blood sugar. Dairy, in general, is not so friendly, but I was happy to cheat a little with some cheese and red wine.
This was a bicycle tour that involved up to 40 miles of riding each day. This kind of physical activity is tricky for a type 1 diabetic. If, for example, you take a fast-acting insulin for breakfast, then you run the risk of crashing hard in the first hour on the bike. Since exercise makes your body very sensitive to insulin, it’s best to avoid the fast-acting kind altogether and, instead, eat a breakfast high in protein and fat before the ride replacing lost sugar with fruit during the ride. If, however, the ride or activity were short in duration (30 minutes or less), then taking a fast acting insulin before hand might be just fine. Before the rides, I would eat a small piece of fruit along with an egg with some bacon. This might cause my blood sugar to rise to about 130 which gives me a good buffer to work with during the ride. After an hour, my blood sugar would fall to 80 at which point I would eat some more fruit and keep going. On this trip, I was able to keep my blood sugar very stable by avoiding the fast acting insulin, eating protein, vegetables and fat during meals, and replacing lost carbohydrates with fruit along the way.
I need to write an entire post on exercise, but here’s the short version. If you are working at an easy level, like walking, jogging lightly, or going for a gentle bike ride, blood sugar may drop over the course of the exercise. However, if you sprint, do intense intervals, or exercise at a high intensity, your blood sugar spike. This is something all type 1’s need to discover on their own by checking blood sugar levels frequently, especially before, during and after exercise.