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South Texas Living

Diabetics can have safe summer fun

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June 25, 2014 | 3,296 views | Post a comment

We like to celebrate summer with family reunions, baseball, picnics, and time at the beach or rivers. But before you get out there and celebrate the beautiful weather and friendships, it is important for people with diabetes to think about health safety. When you have diabetes, you have to plan ahead so you can enjoy the summer without injuries and damage to your health. Here are some points to consider when preparing for your summer fun.

Protect your eyes. When you have diabetes, it is very important to wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses. The ultraviolet light from the sun can damage and strain your eyes. People with diabetes need to keep the glare off their face and eyes, especially when enjoying water activities.

Stay hydrated. Our cells need plain water to function. Wind, sports activities, and family reunion challenges can dehydrate you quickly. So keep plain water available. Sodas, iced tea, and coffee will not keep you hydrated. They actually dehydrate your body. As a general rule, for every 8 ounces of soda, tea, or coffee you drink, you also need to drink 8 ounces of plain water to stay hydrated.

Wear proper shoes. It is especially important to wear protective footwear during the summer. Sandals and flip flops may be cute, but they do not protect your feet from glass, stones, or hidden objects under water and sand. It is very easy for people with diabetes to have foot injuries and not know it. That is because the disease can cause the nerves in your feet to become numb and you will not realize you have injured your foot. If you develop an infection from a foot injury, it can cause your blood sugars to rise. So, what is a proper shoe?

•Toes should be protected and enclosed

•Heels should be protected; avoid open-back shoes that give no support to the ankles

•Wear sturdy, thick soles that cannot be punctured by glass, thorns, or sharp objects.

Each time you start to put on your shoes, check inside each shoe for small stones, twigs, or even a child’s small toy, which could imbed into your foot tissue.

Wear a Medical Alert ID. It is very important to wear a medical alert ID when you have diabetes. There are many different styles of IDs: wrist bands, ankle bands, dog tags, and necklaces. They can be expensive or basic, but most importantly you need to wear an ID so that if you need medical attention, the first responders will know that you have diabetes and will be able to provide correct and expedient treatment for you.

Food safety. Summer is a popular time for picnics and outdoor food events. It is important to keep foods served at the right temperatures to avoid food-borne illnesses. Cold foods need to be kept at less than 42 degrees F and hot foods need to be kept at more than 142 degrees F. If you attend an event, try to make sure the food you eat is at the right temperature. Try to avoid mayonnaise-based foods, such as potato salad, deviled eggs, slaws, salad dressings, or dips, unless they are surrounded by ice. When in doubt, choose something else like fresh vegetables or fruits, and you can avoid those tummy rumbles after a summer picnic.

Portion control. You know that staying focused on how much you eat every day is important to maintaining good glucose management. Just because you are out and about celebrating, summer does not give you a pass on watching what you eat. Be sensible and use the portion plate method. Choose your plate and then sit as far away from the service table as possible, so you won’t be tempted to get up for second helpings. You can maintain good glucose control and still enjoy great conversations and friendship.

So, have fun this summer and follow these summer safety tips and you will enjoy your summer celebrations without risking your health or blood sugar control.

This material was prepared by certified diabetes educator Ardis Reed,, for TMF Health Quality Institute, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for Texas, under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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