If life is a beach, how does diabetes fit in the cooler?

June 11, 2012By 1 Comment

It never fails, for whatever reason, that keeping my blood sugars under 200 while I’m at the beach is as much of a challenge as it is to keep remembering to reapply sunscreen.   It may be that as soon as the sun finds its way to the shiny plastic reservoir in my pump that it wants to fry it like ice cream on hot pavement, or it may be all the sitting around and eating that is just a normal part of a relaxing beach day.  Either theory may be the culprit, but it is just another thing to deal with when packing diabetes in your beach bag for the day.

I enjoyed a very much-needed and relaxing ‘girls day’ at the beach with my good friend Jess yesterday, but it wouldn’t have been relaxing if I didn’t plan ahead to make sure my diabetes didn’t get in the way of my Vitamin D therapy.  I wanted to share my tips on what I packed for food and also how I managed my insulin pump on this humid day.   Diabetes during the summer-time tends to be more of a drag for some reason, particularly because it is much more challenging to find places to put my pump than when I can bury it under a big sweater during the winter.   But also because, for me in particular (and I know it is this way for others with diabetes) the heat or any drastic change in the weather seems to call for a change in basal rates or at least a bump in insulin needs to cover food.

Here is a list of what I packed in the cooler for our worry-free beach day:

  • Mini Bruschetta: pack sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in Tupperware and put some oil and balsamic in a small dressing container along with some slices of a baguette (this way nothing will get soggy if you keep the ingredients separate).      Tip: I only ate a couple with the bread, and then I just ate the tomatoes and mozzarella with a fork so as too avoid too many carbs.
  • Chicken salad: bake 2 boneless chicken breasts (sprinkle pepper and garlic powder on before putting in the oven) at 400 for 25 minutes or until cooked through.  You can also pan sear the chicken, but baking doesn’t call for any oil so it’s a bit healthier.  Chop the chicken into small cubes and mix in a bowl with mayo, fresh lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, pepper, onion powder, sliced almonds or pecans, raisins and sliced grapes.                                                                                                                            Tip: I ate this just with a fork and not on bread (but bring bread for your friends so they can make a sandwich) Also, don’t forget to bolus a bit for this, the raisins and grapes tend to make blood sugar shoot up quickly!
  • Chips and dip: Tip – I buy the lightly salted Lay’s potato chips, while it’s still a ‘treat’ and potato chips are a weakness of mine, at least there are 85 mg of sodium compared with 170 mg in the regular Lay’s, so it’s better for our blood pressure! On another note, the Lay’s Light Original chips, while half the calories, there are actually more carbs and 200 mg of sodium than the orignal or the lightly salted!  Remember to always try to educate yourself with food labels when you can, it will make a big difference.  Also, if you make your own ranch dip, use light sour cream to cut back on the fat and still benefit from the flavor.
  • Fruit salad: Summer is the best time to take advantage of fresh fruits, especially organic fresh fruits from a local organic farm.  I mixed fresh organic strawberries, blueberries and grapes (two uses for my grapes to save on ingredients!), and it was  nice way to satisfy our sweet tooth!
  • Don’t forget lot’s and lot’s of Water and juice boxes just in case.

As for tips to keep my insulin pump in check, here are some things I alway try to do during beach days:

  • Keep your pump in the shade when and if at all possible!  I always try to keep my pump under a towel or under a bathing suit cover-up to lessen the direct heat from the sun.  This includes your tubing as well.
  • Check your blood sugar every hour or so while you are lounging on the sand.  If you notice your blood sugars are not coming down at all, and you have been in the hot sun for more than a couple of hours, the insulin in your pump may be ‘breaking down’.  Keep a vial of fast acting insulin and a syringe in a zip lock bag in your cooler, or in a pocket on the outside of the cooler so that the insulin doesn’t freeze.
  • Make sure to wipe off any sunscreen on your fingers (bring hand sanitizer or just pour some water on your fingers and wipe with a towel) so that you don’t get a false high reading.
  • When you get home from the beach, it’s good practice to change your site and reservoir completely, so that you don’t have insulin running through you that has been baking in the sun all day or a sweaty infusion site just barely hanging on to the skin.

All the planning may be a pain and take extra work, but it pays off if you are able to enjoy a day at the beach without diabetes putting a cloud over the sunshine!

Filed in: Uncategorized Tags:

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Beth says:

    Boy…a lot of planning and monitoring needed to simply ‘relax.’ Don’t know how you manage it all with such grace and positivity. You’re amazing!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: