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6 tips to have fun in the sun with diabetes

Posted on by Gabrielle Keeley, RD, LDN


Although you may have your diabetes under control at home, managing your health on vacation could throw a wrench in your routine. Keep these tips in mind while soaking up that summer sunshine:

1. Drink plenty of water
People with diabetes are more likely to become dehydrated. Why? Diabetes can affect your sweat glands, which doesn’t let your body cool effectively. High temps can also raise blood sugar, which can cause you to urinate more often, leading to dehydration. Moral of the story: drink plenty of water while you’re on vacation!

2. Wear sunscreen
We know we should wear sunscreen to avoid skin cancer, but did you know sunburn can also raise your blood sugar? Similar to being sick, sunburn stresses to your body and stress = higher blood sugar. So if you’re planning a summer vacation to the beach, pack plenty of sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours.

3. Buy a cooler and pack snacks
Two reasons to pack snacks: 1--You don’t want to go more than 4-5 hours without eating because consistency is key to manage diabetes. 2--You don’t want to skip a meal, be starving by dinner and eat everything in sight.

Control your hunger and keep your blood sugars stable by packing snacks that have carbohydrates and protein. Some examples could be: Orange and string cheese, peanut butter crackers, popcorn and nuts or a Greek yogurt.

4. Navigate restaurant menus
Since portions are typically large, try splitting your meal with a family member. Or maybe ask for a to-go box when your entrée comes out, and put half of your meal in the box immediately. Try to avoid seafood that is breaded and pass on those pre-meal dinner rolls.

5. Be active
As much as I like to lie on the beach, fall asleep, and not move for hours, inactivity will not help you keep your blood sugars in check. Take advantage of the beautiful views. It’s not every day that you get to exercise and watch the sun rise over ocean waters (don’t forget to wear shoes!). Not much of a morning person? Play with your kids/grandkids in the water, bring active games, or take a stroll when the sun is setting.

6. Know how to store your medications
Never leave insulin or other medications in hot cars or direct sunlight. Try to keep your meds, meter, test strips, and pumps dry and cool in an insulated lunch bag. If any of your diabetes supplies are exposed to high heat, they may be unreliable. However, you also do not want to store your insulin in a freezer either. Avoid extreme temperatures.

Don’t let diabetes prevent you from having fun at the beach. Just take a few extra steps to make sure you keep your blood sugars under control.

 | Diabetes and Nutrition Center

Gabrielle Keeley, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Lancaster General Health. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Keeley values both education and counseling to connect with her patients. Passionate about leading an enjoyable, healthy lifestyle, Kelley strives to help others overcome obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

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