Diabetic Winter Tips
- Leave the House Prepared
Depending on the severity of the climate in your area of residence, many different precautions can be taken to ensure you are leaving the house properly prepared. If you engage in winter sports remember to wear sunscreen, the snow reflects much of the sun’s UV rays. Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburned! Wear gloves and warm socks. Diabetic socks are sold for comfort and protection with high quality fabric and extra cushioning. Make sure your feet are protected from cracking skin by moisturizing and staying hydrated. If you notice any cuts that do not heal, talk to your doctor. Depending on the severity of your weather, bring glucose on outings that will not freeze. Keeping some glucose tabs stocked and ready when you leave the house is always a good backup plan.
- Pay Attention to Your Mental Health
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs during the winter months. SAD is more common than you may think. Everyone can get SAD but you are more at risk if you live in areas where daylight hours are very short, people with relatives with SAD, women, and people around the ages of 15-55. If you are find yourself feeling increasingly fatigued, or even just withdrawing socially, do not hesitate to speak to a medical professional. This form of depression is easily treatable with light therapy, medications, and even just expressing your feelings. Self care is always important, and SAD may impede motivation to maintain yourself properly.
- Keep Medical Supplies at Safe Temperatures
Insulin solutions freeze around 32°F, which will cause them to breakdown when thawed and become ineffective. Keeping medical supplies indoors will help prevent this. When leaving the house, keep your blood glucose monitoring devices wrapped up and stored somewhere warm.
- Stay Active
This may seem like obvious advice but it is especially important to maintain an exercise routine in winter months. This is because of the aforementioned tendency to binge as well as its impact on mental health. We tend to slowly lose our will to exercise as the temperature outside drops and the best way to combat this is to set reasonable and attainable exercise goals. Tell yourself that you will do 5 pushups in the mornings, the habit will pay off.
- Warm Your Hands Before Testing Glucose
Cold fingers result in reduced circulation and will therefore cause inaccurate results. Wear gloves when you leave the house and when you are indoors be sure to warm your hands against a heater or a hot mug. During the winter, higher glucose levels are common. Use of a CGM device will make trends easier to recognize. Speak to your doctor about potentially adjusting your basal rate if you notice changes. Your HbA1c levels may also increase so be sure to keep track of everything.
- Stay Hydrated and Binge Healthy Snacks
It’s easy to fall into a winter slump and spend increasingly more time lounging around, binging snacks like a stereotypical couch potato. A good way to avoid serious weight gain is to stock your shelves with healthy snacks with low sodium and sugar content. Next time you find yourself at the grocery store skip the chips isle and fill your cart instead with celery or greek yogurt. The weather (and sedentary lifestyle it tends to induce) also can lead to forgetting to drink water regularly. Drinking less caffeine will also help. Keeping yourself hydrated can go a long way for skincare!