Diabetes and spring, two words that don’t seem to go together. I believe that with spring just a few weeks away it is the perfect time to re-evaluate your diabetes management plan.
We will soon be approaching the two-year mark since our grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and we have noticed that Alex’s diabetes does react to seasonal changes.
Because his diabetes reacts to seasonal changes, as a family we need to make adjustments to how we care for him.
Little tweaks can go a long way towards effectively managing his diabetes.
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How can spring affect diabetes?
We have noticed with Alex that season changes create a bit of a roller coaster as far as his blood sugars go.
As spring approaches, the temperatures are wildly fluctuating and so are Alex’s blood sugars.
We do our best to ensure we are following his plan but things still go a little out of control.
The change of season seems to affect everything.
Just as the temperatures fluctuate so do blood sugar levels. You may find you experience more lows as spring approaches.
In many cases, insulin has been increased during the colder winter months to manage blood sugars with less physical activity. Naturally, we are less active in winter, especially in colder climates.
Early humans really did hibernate throughout the winter although not to the same extent as other mammals. There are still some residual physiological processes that linger in our bodies today.
Our bodies naturally prepare for winter and the accompanying lack of easily available food, less activity and frigid temperatures by storing more fuel as fat.
I can certainly see how a lack of food would have been a grave concern for early humans. Winter would mean a lack of foraging and it would certainly be more difficult to hunt especially with deep snow.
Today that is not an issue as most of us have easy access to plenty of food year-round.
This is a big part of why insulin resistance continues to increase during the winter and for diabetics, it usually means increasing your insulin even slightly regardless of efforts to eat low-carb diets or continue to exercise indoors.
With the warm temperatures comes increased insulin sensitivity. Diabetics who have even slightly increased their insulin in response to the metabolic slow down of winter may experience more lows in the early days of spring.
How your body reacts to temperature changes can be slightly different for everyone.
It is extremely important for diabetics to frequently test their blood sugar levels and work closely with their diabetes care team and follow their treatment plan.
Never make adjustments to your insulin without consulting your diabetes team.
We have found that Alex’s sleep is sometimes affected by seasonal changes.
Well, I guess it could be the change in the amount and strength of natural sunlight as well as the time change here in North America.
You see each spring we change our clocks ahead of 1 hour for what they call “daylight savings time” and return to “standard time” in the fall.
It takes Alex a few days to adjust to the time change as well as the naturally longer days in spring and summer.
He finds it difficult to go to sleep when it is not yet dark, this affects the amount of sleep he gets which in turn can affect his blood sugars.
We usually just ride the roller coaster that is diabetes during season changes with the knowledge that Alex’s little body will adjust in a few days and his sugars will stabilize.
One of our favourites is fresh asparagus and luckily that is one of the first crops available.
My favourite Maritime treat is fresh fiddleheads sauteed in butter with a bit of lemon juice and pepper( just be sure to boil them first to get the muddy taste out of them).
Another family favourite is rhubarb.
I will share a few of our family favourites so you can give your spring some new flavours.
Change things up
Spring is a great time to change up your whole routine. Why not? The days are longer, the temperatures are warming and we have all had enough of being cooped up inside.
Why not head outdoors? I love the smell of spring, somehow the air just smells different. The world is so alive, birds are returning, the sap is flowing (mmm syrup) and the trees are budding. Spring is definitely one of my favourite seasons.
We like to head outdoors for some walks, if you stick to the roadways it isn’t too muddy or wet.
In early spring there is still plenty of snow around in the woods so snowshoeing is a wonderful activity.
The ice on ponds, rivers and lakes is becoming unstable or completely melting so skating is not possible but watching the ducks as they return is a welcome sight.
Regardless of what activity you are doing wearing proper footwear is always a big priority for diabetics.
You want to ensure your shoes are comfortable, well-fitting and offer the proper support for the activity you will be doing.
Try new recipes
With spring comes new flavours to try. Here are a few of our favourites.
bundle of fresh asparagus
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
- Rinse asparagus in clean running water. Remove button 1 to 1 1/2 inches from each stalk.
- Melt butter in a pan. Add asparagus and saute for about 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and continue sauteing an additional 2 -3 minutes or until desired tenderness.
- I add pepper and lemon just before serving.
1 pound fresh fiddleheads
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
juice from 1/2 lemon
- Rinse and remove long stems from fiddleheads. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Immerse fiddleheads in boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander.
- Melt butter in a pan and sautee garlic until fragrant. Add fiddleheads and saute until desired tenderness. Squeeze lemon juice over and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
1 1/2 C rhubarb, chopped 2 1/2 C flour
1 egg 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c vegetable oil 1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp butter, melted 1 tsp baking soda
1 C buttermilk 1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C walnuts 1 tsp white sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F and grease or place liners in two 12 cup muffin tins.
- In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl beat the brown sugar, oil, egg, buttermilk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour in dry ingredients and mix by hand just until moistened. Stir in the rhubarb and walnuts.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the top.
- In a small bowl stir together the melted butter, white sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of each muffin.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans for at least 10 minutes before removing.
I don’t know about you but I love to give my home a thorough cleaning each spring. I start by opening the windows and airing everything out. Fill the house with fresh fragrant air.
Then I crank the tunes and get busy cleaning everything. Walls, windows, baseboards, cupboards and closets, everything gets a good cleaning.
Did you know that spring cleaning also counts as physical exercise, especially if like me, you crank those tunes and dance around the house while cleaning?
When you are done your home looks and smells terrific and you have even benefited your health in the process.
As the weather warms and we are more active it becomes even more important to drink enough water.
Water is an essential part of maintaining those blood sugar levels and helping to prevent those spikes so drink up.
Try adding cucumber slices or sliced fruit or berries to infuse a bit of flavour for a refreshing change.
Apple slices and a cinnamon stick are nice too.
Alex and I love to picnic outside.
There is just something about the warmer temperatures that make us want to have adventures.
We often pack a little lunch and head to the local park for a picnic lunch followed by some fun activities at the playground.
Dining outdoors provides the perfect blend of fresh air, healthy food and great exercise all while having fun and building treasured memories.
When heading out for the day
Of course, when heading out for the day with a diabetic there is a bit more involved than just heading out.
It takes a bit of planning but doesn’t take long once you are used to it.
Since blood sugars are often unpredictable, especially in the springtime it is important to be prepared for anything.
We follow this checklist to help ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
- We begin with a healthy breakfast to start our day out well. We make sure it includes protein (eggs) and carbs for energy (we like either whole-grain toast or oatmeal with berries).
- Alex’s little black insulated bag goes everywhere he goes. It has his glucose testing kit, glucose tabs or fast-acting sugar snack, insulin. The outside pocket carries the scanner/reader for his continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
- We also have a larger bag that contains additional testing supplies, additional insulin, glucose tabs, snacks, drinks and a Glucagon emergency kit. This bag is insulated and kept close by in a shady area.
- In addition to the usual diabetic supplies, we also want non-diabetic supplies such as sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses and a hat.
- Dehydration can affect diabetics so make sure you bring plenty of water. If your blood sugars are high you can dehydrate faster so this is really important.
- Don’t leave your diabetic supplies unattended or in the sun. They are temperature sensitive and you want to ensure they are working properly. Diabetic supplies are expensive and you don’t want them stolen.
Heading out for the day isn’t complicated once you get the hang of it.
When spring arrives we check the bags each night to ensure they are fully stocked with diabetes supplies.
This ensures that whatever we decide to do in the morning we are prepared and just grab the appropriate bag or bags and we are off.
With diabetes planning is key.
We have learned a lot about diabetes and spring.
Along with fluctuating temperatures springtime can also mean fluctuating blood sugar levels as your body adjust to the new season.
It can be frustrating but with frequent monitoring and always having what you need handy to treat either highs or lows you will ride this out.
Spring is a time of new beginnings and it is the perfect time to revamp your diabetes plan.
Get out there in the warmer temperatures and enjoy some great adventures before the stifling heat of summer.
Remember to work closely with your diabetes care team and always follow their advice.
I am not in any way a medical practitioner, please do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. We only share our experiences. We are affiliates, this means that if you purchase something from a link or ad on this site we may receive a small commission. This in no way affects the price you pay.
How does spring affect your diabetes?
Do you have favourite springtime activities?
What favourite spring recipes do you enjoy?
Leave your answers in the comment section below and take care of yourself.