The Trouble for Diabetics in Winter

  “Every mile is two in Winter”

~George Hurbert

Many of us diabetics seem to have an especially difficult time during the winter months.  There are probably several reasons for this.  Less exercise, less time outdoors, holiday stress, and more frequent snacking all contribute to blood sugar havoc. 

I’ve never managed to escape winter’s mean grip on me.  I catch at least one virus during this time of year which manages to knock me off of my healthy routine for about two weeks.  Then, because I’m getting less vitamin D from the sun (in fact, none from the sun) my mood and energy levels plummet.  Let’s not forget those times (all too frequent) when I decide against going to the gym because I am convinced I’ll freeze to death on the way there.  I should mention that my gym is just down the road at my apartment complex. 

I have been reading a lot of fellow diabetic’s words and I have easily come to the conclusion that I’m definitely not alone.  Just testing blood sugar these days is tough because, well I don’t know about you but, when I prick my finger, it’s so numb I have to swing it around a couple times for the blood to come out.  I do that and look like a softball pitcher or else I have to prick harder, which hurts.

I’m thinking we all need a plan of defense.  Those of us who have a hard time during the winter, that is.  I do know a few people who I’m secretly suspicious of being cold blooded as they can run out into the cold with shorts and a t-shirt on and still smile.

I say we need a plan that starts in late or mid fall. 

The vitamin D issue is pretty easy to tackle.  We can supplement with it.  I recommend doing this carefully since you can overdose.  A simple blood test can determine your current levels-so ask your doctor about this.  Several months after being in Cancun two years ago, a blood test found my vitamin D levels to be surprisingly low.  It doesn’t quite work how we might imagine.  The sun you get in July doesn’t provide you adequate vitamin D through the winter.  You have to get a constant dose of this year round.  Anyway, when my levels were found low, supplementing for a few months with cod liver oil brought those levels right up.  This did happen quickly however, which is why the blood test is important.

The plus about having adequate vitamin D levels before entering winter is vitamin D protects against viruses and it would be great to minimize the chances of catching the all too common cold.

What about exercise?  For me, I can substitute at home yoga on the days I really can’t march several hundred meters to the gym.  What might you do?  Anything active you like to do in the comfort of your own home?  You may want to try simple floor exercises in front of the TV.  These work really well.  When I was 15 I wanted to tone up so each night I did 20 minutes of leg lifts and squats and push ups and you know what?  In two months I was a size 3 instead of a 5.  I really should take up that experiment again and see how it works.

Snacking is a problem for many of us it seems.  Goodies are sort of thrown at us during the holiday season and how are we to say no?  I’ve been trying to focus on enjoying warm liquids.  I’ll drink hot organic chicken broth, hot herbal tea without sugar, coffee, hot chocolate (made with little milk and little sugar).  The days I do this, I snack less (because I’m full of liquids) and I stay warm, too.  This doesn’t completely solve my problem but I’ve been trying it for a few days and it has helped me stick to regular meals instead of all day grazing.

I’m going to get vitamin D to supplement with.  I’m going to do some yoga right now.  I’m going to then make myself some peppermint tea. 

Oh we didn’t address the stress issue.  Well, for me, hopefully the vitamin D will help my moods, the yoga help relax me, and the tea warm me.  That should help.  Of course, next year I should try these three small changes in the fall and see how it helps throughout the winter season. 

What do you think?  Would it help us all to start taking some actions before winter sets in to sort of safeguard against diabetes winter burnout?

If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!  We’ve still got a few more months to brave!

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