It’s cold, there are fewer hours of sunlight and you are tired of dealing with your diabetes. For many people with diabetes, as the temperature drops, blood sugars rise. That's because when snow, ice and cold weather keep you inside, you may exercise less and eat more.
Here are a few tips to better control your blood sugars during the winter months — and keep those winter blues away!
Warm up your body
Exercise lowers your blood sugar, helps your body use insulin better, keeps you warm, and can even improve your mood.
There are lots of ways to get active without ever leaving your home (besides shoveling snow!). Try yoga, climbing the stairs a few times, dancing, using a Wii or Xbox Kinect — even cleaning your room. Get your muscles moving to warm up, clear your head and lower your blood sugar.
When you're sick, your diabetes is more difficult to control. If you do get a cold, virus or flu and you develop ketones, make sure you follow your sick day rules. Contact your nurse practitioner if ketones persist.
To help stay healthy during the winter:
- Make sure to get your flu shot
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night
- Wash your hands frequently
- If you do get sick, stay home
- Remember to count the carbs for ALL of the food that you are eating.
- Dose your insulin correctly for what you eat.
- Stews and soups with lots of delicious veggies can help keep you warm and are often healthy choices.
Some people order out more often so they don’t have to make a shopping trip out in the cold. Food that is ordered out like pizza or pasta and premade frozen dinners can be loaded with extra calories, salt and fat.
When you cook in your own kitchen, you know exactly what goes into the meal. You can also make sure that you have veggies and fruit for each meal. You’ll also save some money and stay warm by the stove.
Keep your spirits up
During the winter, it can be more difficult to stay in touch with friends. While it may take a little more effort, spending time with others can help you ward off the winter blues.
- Reach out to others in need of help by volunteering at a local YMCA, food bank, soup kitchen or abuse shelter
- Have a friend over. Simply talking can lift your mood and make you feel less isolated.
Despite your best efforts, winter blues can take over and you may feel depressed. We all have bad days, but if you feel “blue” for a while, you may want to seek help. Contact the DCC social worker if you are concerned.
You should also be on the look out for the following signs of depression:
- Being tired (more than usual).
- Trouble concentrating on tasks.
- Change in eating habits.
- Moodiness or irritability.
- Feeling overwhelmed and/or guilty.
- Wanting to be alone more than usual.
- Losing interest in hobbies or things you once enjoyed.
- Drop in grades at school.
Guarding against the winter blues can help with your blood sugar control. Following the above tips (keeping active, counting the carbs that you eat and staying connected with others) will help keep your body and mind healthy all winter — and the rest of the year, too!