It’s around this time of year that many planning Christmas holidays take the plunge and book their planned excursions.

For people with diabetes, you will notice that some airways including British Airways, KLM, Thomas Cook and Jet Airways, among others, offer ‘diabetic meals’ on flights.

If you are wondering what a diabetic meal offers you on board a plane then here’s what you need to know.

Diabetic meals are high in carbohydrates


If you were under the impression that a diabetic airline meal may be a low carbohydrate high fat option to help you control your blood sugar levels while on board, you would be mistaken.

Diabetic meals are made without the use of syrups and sugars, but they are often high in complex carbohydrate and fibres.

Many people report that the meal that they received while cruising at 35,000 feet is more likely to send their blood sugar levels sky high.

According to many accounts, a diabetic meal is also more likely to taste worse than normal airline food.

Small things such as margarine being served instead of butter have often plagued diabetic meals and put people off ever having them again.

Other fat cutting measures are likely to have been taken, including being short changed on sauces to accompany large amounts of starchy carbohydrates and vegetables.

If eating low carbohydrate is not an issue for you, ordering a normal meal may limit what you can eat – in terms of desserts and sweet snacks – but the main meal itself will in likelihood taste a lot nicer.

A diabetic meal should be carefully considered if you are looking to limit your carbohydrate intake, but there may be options available for the “create your own” enthusiasts.

Making requests

If you are on a specific diet and hoping that this may be catered for while on board your flight, it will prove useful to ring up your airline and ask them what the options are and what you should expect from your diabetic meal.

Some airlines, including American Airlines, will cater to carbohydrate controlled meal requirements, as well as other requests such as reduced fat content.

In this instance a diabetic meal may include a variation of lean meat, fresh fish, whole meal bread, eggs, fruit and salad, for example, it might also be possible for you to request specific foods to be included in your meal.

Alternatives to diabetic meals

If you have found out that your on-board meal cannot be altered to meet your requirements, or you simply don’t fancy airline food, do not despair.

Bringing your own snacks such as a selection of nuts can help keep you full and your blood sugar levels stable. It’s not as if your only option is to eat airline food when on board the plane.

Otherwise, eating a full meal before your flight will inevitably keep you full for a satisfactory period, allowing you to sleep blissfully through the meal delivery period.

Let us know if you have any interesting airline catering experiences, are there any airlines that are particularly accommodating to the culinary needs of someone with diabetes? Do you think there should be more information available?

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