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Let’s talk about diabetes in winter

I don’t know about you, but it is freezing in Cape Town. And diabetes in winter offers a whole new set of challenges. Bridget McNulty unpacks them here…

Let's talk about diabetes in winter

Cold days and comfort food

As I write this, it’s pouring with rain outside (for the second day in a row – and the rest of the week looks just as cold and rainy!) It’s dark, and wet, and cold, and all I want to do is dive into mounds of warm, hearty comfort food. Is it just me?

In summer, or even spring and autumn, I can quite easily choose the healthy option. I authentically enjoy salad (made my way – very few leaves) and I like eating smaller, lighter meals that don’t spike my blood sugar. But diabetes in winter steamrolls through all those good intentions. All I want is big portions of delicious carbs that are guaranteed to spell trouble for my blood sugar. I want to nest, and cuddle up, and eat.

Winter and diabetes and exercise

Exercise is the other big issue with wet weather. I love walking, and go for at least two or three long walks a week, but when it’s windy and rainy that doesn’t work for me… At all. I also don’t feel like exercising – I feel like lying on the couch watching TV. It’s not just me, is it? Tell me it’s not just me!

I can make an effort to exercise indoors, of course. I love yoga, and dancing, and even a few good stretches from my desk feel lovely. But that thrill of getting active that I get in the warmer months is completely absent during these winter storms.

diabetes and winter and exercise challenges

(This is my favourite pic from our #LanguageMatters photo shoot!)

Any advice for winter and diabetes?

That’s it, friends! I don’t have advice for how to deal with this, I want it! As I wrote that, though, I thought: aren’t we supposed to be the Diabetes Wikipedia of South Africa? Surely there’s something useful on the Sweet Life website! And I found this lovely article: Winter workouts with diabetes. You can read the whole thing by clicking on the link, but I particularly like this bit:

3 minute winter workouts with diabetes

Generate some heat on chilly winter mornings with this 3-minute blood-pumping routine:

  • Jumping Jacks: Jump your feet out and sweep your arms up over your head, then jump feet together and bring arms to your side. Repeat for 60 seconds.
  • Side squats: Squat as low as you can, stand up and take a step to the side. Squat down again. Repeat on the other side. Keep going for 60 seconds.
  • Plank: Get into a push-up position. Bend your arms to the floor, and rest your body weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, your body in a straight line from head to feet. Hold for 60 seconds.

What do you think about diabetes in winter?

Let me know below, or by commenting on Facebook! And if you’re lucky enough to live in Durban, where winter is the best season, feel free to rub it in… I’m off to do some Jumping Jacks to warm up!

What to read next?

10 Fast ways to improve your immunity: Want to keep healthy all-year round? We’ve found the fastest ways to improve your immunity.

Diabetes disaster kit- what to pack in an emergency: This diabetes disaster kit is helpful if you have to deal with a major storm, extended loss of electricity or possible evacuation from your home.

SMART goals: what they are and why you need them.

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  1. Robert Sugarman Barnsley Robert Sugarman Barnsley

    Great article and topic!

    There are three things for me that make it manageable:
    1) Freestyle Libre 2. With CGM you can react to any mishaps in your patterns or eating in general and keep in the comfort zone (for me it’s between 7.9 and 3.9 mmol/L as much as possible)
    2) Increase your protein intake and try to find a low carb rice (very often from a small Indian shop that sells amazing curries and samosas). One brand I remember well is Indagate. But there are low carb options, and these should be used as your starch if you are not going to use a veggie as a substitute. Increase eating healthy fats and reduce carbs. You still have yummy options for comfort. Stew, Potjie, roasts and so on. Soups are a great way to have yummy food with no nonsense, if you stay away from the ones that are based with potatoes.
    3) Yes, it’s cold but get out there and exercise. Quick bursts of training, breaking a sweat and you are good to go.

    That would be my advice. Has anyone else felt the shortage of the Freestyle Libre? Does anyone have information about it? It is concerning as I can testify that it is a game changer!

    • Fantastic suggestions, thank you Robert!
      Apparently it’s not a shortage of FreeStyle Libre (2) at all, just that the CDE doesn’t have stock. You can get it from Pharmacy Direct in exactly the same way as you were getting it from CDE –

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