Diabetes and Spring

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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.

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.

Blood sugar levelsDiabetes and Spring - diabetes supplies

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.

Sleep patterns

We have found that Alex’s sleep is sometimes affected by seasonal changes.

How?

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.

Dietary changes

Diabetes and Spring - fresh asparagus for dinnerSpring is a fantastic time to revamp your diet. There are so many new and delicious flavours available.

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.

Fresh airDiabetes and Spring - walk outdoors

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.

Proper footwear

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.

Asparagus
Diabetes and Spring - sauteed asparagus

Ingredients:

bundle of fresh asparagus

butter

2 cloves garlic

juice of 1/2 lemon

pepper

Directions:

  1. Rinse asparagus in clean running water. Remove button 1 to 1 1/2 inches from each stalk.
  2. Melt butter in a pan. Add asparagus and saute for about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and continue sauteing an additional 2 -3 minutes or until desired tenderness.
  4. I add pepper and lemon just before serving.

Fiddleheads

Diabetes and Spring - sauteed fiddleheads

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh fiddleheads

2 Tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic

pepper

juice from 1/2 lemon

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

 

Rhubarb Muffins

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease or place liners in two 12 cup muffin tins.
  2. 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.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the top.
  4. In a small bowl stir together the melted butter, white sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of each muffin.
  5. 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.

Spring cleaning

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.

Drink up

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.

Dining outdoorsDiabetes and Spring - picnic at the park

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.

  1. 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).Diabetes and Spring - black bag of diabetes supplies
  2.  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).
  3. 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.Diabetes and Spring - insulated bag of diabetes supplies
  4. In addition to the usual diabetic supplies, we also want non-diabetic supplies such as sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses and a hat.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Final thoughts

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.


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6 thoughts on “Diabetes and Spring”

  1. Wow. I never knew that diseases like diabetes could vary with the season. I really like the way you’ve gone into the nitty gritty details about your son Alex and how he reacts to seasonal changes in his sleeping patterns, blood level and new needs. This could really save a life. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. 

      I am grateful I was able to help you understand a little more about diabetes and some of the struggles people may not be aware of.

      We share our experiences with our grandson in the hopes that others can learn from the very things we have struggled with.

      Knowing ahead of time that your blood sugars could fluctuate due to the rising temperatures of spring is important so you can increase the number of times you check your sugars in order to avoid any serious lows.

      Thanks again and best wishes.

      Reply
  2. I’m sorry to hear about your grandson diagnose. This is interesting, I had no idea that diabetes can react to seasonal change. My father is type 1 diabetic as well but I have never noticed the change. This I interesting topic with the cold and insulin level. Thanks for sharing the tips and recipes. Alex is lucky to be in your good hands. 

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting. Not every diabetic is affected by seasonal changes.

      Alex likes to be outdoors a lot regardless of season so he has been out in the snow playing all winter. His body would have become climatized to the colder temperatures. This could be why is affected by the warmer temps of spring. 

      It doesn’t last long but is something to be aware of and maybe increase the blood glucose testing for a while until you know how your body reacts if it does at all.

      Your Dad is lucky to have you looking out for his health.

      Take care.

      Reply
  3. This is a fascinating and very informative post.

    I never knew until now that the seasons affect insulin levels in the body.  While you are referring to type 1, there are probably people who haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes but are in the verge will probably notice the change of seasons affecting their health, so this post might encourage them to get tested.

    Thsnks for sharing the recipes, I particularly think I will try the rhubarb muffins, as I love rhubarb.

    Thanks for sharing this helpful information.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Geoff for taking the time to comment. Not every diabetic is affected by the seasonal change but some are.

      You are correct in assuming that some people may be either undiagnosed or be insulin resistant and the changes in the season may make them feel worse. Hopefully, they will seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

      I hope you enjoy the rhubarb muffins. My husband loves them.

      Take care.

      Reply

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