June 30, 2014

Have Diabetes – Be Careful During Summer

After the past winter, most people want to be outside and enjoying life after being cooped up during the cold. For people with diabetes, extra precautions are advisable.  I have written several blogs previously about taking care of diabetes supplies, what to do for travel, and enjoying summer with diabetes. For this blog, I will be talking about food, physical activity, diabetes medications, and blood glucose monitoring.

The summer brings out the best in grilling, picnics, and the variety of summer foods.  With diabetes, it does not mean that you must avoid these treats, but be mindful of the number of carbohydrates and the size of servings you pile on your plate. The foods of summer do contain carbohydrates, especially the buns for hamburgers and hot dogs. Then don't forget the carbohydrates in potato and macaroni salad, corn on the cob, and carrots (many consider carrots as low carb, but they do have more carbs than you may think).

You don't have to have the leanest ground beef, but many will suggest this to help you maintain a high carb, low fat diet. I suggest a low carb, high fat diet with plenty of protein. Chicken and turkey can also be good for a summertime meal. Don't forget salad greens (lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, celery) and other vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers).

If you wish to watch the carbohydrates, consider using water with fresh lemon, lime, or orange slices in the water. Or consider slices of cucumber and a few sprigs of mint added to the water pitcher for a refreshing drink.

Now that you have no need for shoveling snow, other activities now take priority like mowing the lawn. But that is not the activity most people were thinking about for the summer. If you’ve been cooped up all winter on the couch, it’s important to go easy so that you don’t injure yourself. Walking, running or jogging, swimming and other activity can be very enjoyable.

In the summer, heat is a concern. Early morning is often the best time for physical activity and doing it in the afternoon and early evening or heat of the day just does not make sense. If you live in a city with a mall, this may be used instead of walking during the heat of the day. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, redness, or swelling. Treat cuts and blisters properly. Call your doctor if they don’t seem to be healing or going away.

Try to remember to check your blood glucose levels before and after your activity. If you tend to go low during or after exercise, talk to your doctor about changing the dose of your diabetes medication, if possible or exercising after a meal. Always wear the right footwear and if needed invest in a good pair of shoes or sneakers for the exercise you are doing. Also, invest in a few pair of socks that will wick moisture away from your feet.

Medications for diabetes are important and you should always protect them from heat. Always make sure you take all your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Frio packs work well for protecting (from overheating and not freezing) your diabetes supplies in the summer and winter. Frio wallets can keep insulin safe for up to 45 hours. For wallets, just submerse them in cold water for five to fifteen minutes to activate. If you are going to be out of the U.S., always wear or carry some form of medical identification stating that you have diabetes.

This last on monitoring should apply to all seasons and not just the summer. Anytime you do something out of your normal routine, you may need to test your blood glucose more than usual. This will be if you travel or your routine changes. If you take insulin or oral medications that can cause lows, make sure you always have a treatment for low blood glucose with you.

With the proper precautions, summer can be enjoyable and fun.

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