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Traveling with Diabetes type 2 in India

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My wife and I will be traveling to India at the end of December and she is a type 2 diabetic. We were wondering if any other type 2 diabetics out there could share some of their survival trips for traveling internationally, particularly in Asia. We haven't had much trouble before in Europe, but in India my wife will have to forgo cold food such as salads. Everything will have to be hot but the sauces in Indian cooking might often be too carb-laden for her. We also plan on taking snacks with us, such as beef jerky and nuts, but any other ideas for food items that travel well? Any freeze dried foods that are carb-friendly and that you can take with you? Any tips would be welcome. Thanks.

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    I don’t know exactly what your wife’s dietary restrictions would be, but having travelled in India extensively over the years, I can make a few observations:

    1. It might be useful to bring a guide to Indian food and cooking, esp by region as it varies quite a bit. For example, knowing how tandoori chicken is cooked, (marinated in yoghurt) and that paneer is cottage cheese will probably be helpful to you. Indian sweets are generally milk-based or lentil-based, which may be an issue in addition to the sugar.

    2. Raw foods, and in particular salads, are not part of the Indian diet, so you only find them served in Western restaurants and in hotels. Many people avoid them anyway due to hygiene issues. So I don’t think avoiding salads will be any issue for you. Cold foods are rarely served either; again this is a Western preference. (Most of Asia prefers warm or hot food).

    3 There are usually many vegetarian options on offer, as many Indians are vegetarians. These are often cooked in ghee – clarified butter (this is what is called “pure veg”). If butter is OK for your wife, she should be fine going with vegetarian options that are cooked in ghee. Otherwise, you might ask that items be cooked in vegetable oil. Lard is sometimes used in non-veg restaurants.

    3. If yoghurt is an issue for carbs, then ask about this when ordering. Many foods (esp meat dishes) are cooked with yoghurt/curds. However, it may be a small amount and that may not be a problem for your wife. It is easy to avoid the bread and rice served as side dishes, sot that should not be a problem. Most dals are made from lentils/beans/pulses and are high in carbs, so probably best avoided.

    5. There are many Western restaurants in India these days; you can always fall back on what you know from home, esp. in hotels.

    6. Beef jerky would not normally be available in most places (as Hindus don’t eat beef); although many chain hotels serve beef hamburgers and steak. So you may need to bring beef jerky if this is a snack which works for your wife. I don’t think you would have a problem finding nuts and seeds in India. Peanut butter is available in supermarkets in major cities and most hotel breakfast buffets, although in smaller towns it may not be as available.

    7. There are a fair number of diabetics in India, so she will not be alone.

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    Thanks, Cicerone. Just to clarify, type 2 diabetes means that my wife has to avoid carbs and Indian food is generally heavy in carbs. We may just have to pack plenty of freeze dried foods that are low in carbs.

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