Managing Diabetes in the SummerLast updated: Jun 01, 2015
From barbeques to walks on the beach, traditional summer pleasures and activities pose potential risks for people managing diabetes. Enjoy summer fun by being aware of common health pitfalls and preventing them proactively.
Warm weather requires frequent hydration. Most people are more aware of eating healthy foods than drinking healthy liquids. The Diabetes Live Well Program at Summit Medical Group advises patients to avoid sugary drinks like soda, lemonade and sweetened iced tea, which put on pounds and elevate blood sugar levels. Certified by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the program’s three dedicated dieticians recommend water as the best choice for quenching thirst. Keep a gallon jug in the car and a bottle in your purse or briefcase. You can add flavor to water with a squeeze of lemon or a slice of cucumber. Make a quick and easy alternative to lemonade with a splash of concentrated lemon juice and some artificial sweetener. Instead of sugary soda, drink a diet soda or make your own carbonated treat with seltzer and artificially sweetened fruit syrup. Unsweetened iced tea is also a go-to summer drink.
Barbeques can be a slippery slope for diabetics. Unhealthy choices like fruit pies, baked beans, beer and high-fat foods are barbeque staples—but you can still enjoy the offerings at an outdoor barbecue or picnic if you plan ahead. Experts at the Live Well Program, comprised of three board-certified endocrinologists and a certified diabetes educator, suggest the following for healthy barbeque eating:
- If you are a guest, offer to bring a dish, and prepare a healthy meal high in fresh vegetables and fiber. Good choices include a crudité plate and low-calorie dip, a grain salad made with 50% non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes, or a dessert “salad” with fresh fruit and artificially-sweetened gelatin.
- Avoid processed meats—like hot dogs and brats—that are high-fat and high-sodium. Instead, choose burgers made with 90% lean-ground beef or ground turkey, grilled salmon or fish fillets, and Portobello mushroom and black-bean burgers. Another good choice is kabobs that mix healthy vegetables and low-fat proteins like shrimp and chicken breast.
Wear comfortable shoes and never go barefoot. Even sandals and open-toed shoes can put diabetics at risk for foot infections. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the most common foot problems for diabetics include blisters, athlete’s foot and fungal infections, all of which are more prevalent in summer. Check your feet every day. You should look for blisters, cuts, redness, swelling, and scratches. Get medical care at the first sign of infection or inflammation. If you are walking long distances or hiking, be careful to break in your shoes or boots before you use them, and always bring a blister-prevention kit with moleskin and patches. If you get pedicures in the summertime, bring your own sterilized implements to ensure utmost cleanliness, as well as nail polish and polish remover. Ask the salon staff to clean the basin with disinfectant and wash hands thoroughly before touching your feet.
If you are traveling on vacation, consult a physician at the Summit Medical Group Diabetes Live Well Program before you leave.