A change in weather can do more than cause you to put on an extra layer of clothes. Across all types of diabetes, HbA1c levels tend to rise in the winter and fall during the summer. From less physical activity to seasonal treats, there are a dynamic group of factors at work.
It’s not necessarily the cold weather itself, but how that cold weather affects your behavior that can make it more difficult to stay within a healthy A1c range. An awareness of how your behavior may change and what you can do about it can help you stay healthy as the seasons evolve.
Consistent Blood Glucose Testing
Regular, consistent blood glucose tests are absolutely vital to diabetic health. When it’s cold, your hands can become stiff and clumsy. Some people skip testing because of that discomfort and awkwardness. Stay consistent with your testing even when your hands are cold.
Find a way to warm your hands before testing to help yourself through the process. Rub your hands together to create friction, wear gloves, or put your hands in your pockets for a few minutes before testing. You can also try washing your hands in warm water before starting to not only keep your hands warm but clean.
Everyone from those with diabetes to those without tend to move less in the winter. Snow or rain may keep you from taking your morning walk or trip to the gym. Do the best you can to stay active, no matter the weather. That might mean investing in a treadmill or finding a few YouTube channels with home workouts that you enjoy. It could also mean bundling up when the temperatures drop and taking your daily walk anyway.
Update Your Skincare Routine
Dry, itchy skin is one of the side effects of diabetes. When that’s combined with lower relative humidity levels due to cooler temperatures, it’s a recipe for parched, cracked skin. (Relative humidity = colder air holds less moisture than warm air, so in the winter, even humid places can feel drier.)
Any openings in the skin can then become a place for bacteria or fungus to enter and cause an infection. You’ll need to update your skincare routine for colder, dryer weather. VitalFit Daily Moisturizer is a great choice for a morning moisturizer. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties to protect you from infection in skin creases. It’s also gentle and creates a barrier to reduce uncomfortable friction.
Travel-size containers of moisturizer can help you stay moisturized throughout the day. Any time your skin feels tight, reapply your daytime moisturizer.
It’s important to moisturize at night, too, because that’s when the skin rests and heals. VitalFit’s Night Moisturizer contains healing ingredients like antioxidants and vitamins to help your skin through the natural nighttime restorative processes.
Focus on a Healthy Diet
The winter months are full of holidays and seasonal sweets and goodies. While treats are delicious, they can wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels. You don’t need to forgo treats altogether. However, focus on a healthy diet and eat sweets in moderation.
Make a healthy eating plan before you arrive at holiday parties. Choose one or two sweets to eat rather than sampling everything available. That way, you still get a taste of the holidays, but your blood sugar remains fairly consistent.
Maintain Good Hygiene
Individuals with diabetes have a harder time fighting off any type of infection, whether that’s from athlete’s foot to the common cold. Consequently, cold and flu season can do a number on your immune system and blood sugar. Vigilance around your hygiene habits can help.
Wash your hands often, especially before eating. Carry hand sanitizer with you to use throughout the day. Frequent washing can dry out your skin, making it even more important to keep a moisturizer with you as well.
Take Steps for Good Mental Health
Shorter days mean less sunlight, which can lead to seasonal depression. Lack of exercise and activity and potentially fewer social interactions can also contribute to poor mental health. Be proactive in the care of your mental wellbeing.
Exercise regularly and maintain contact with friends and family. Less time in the sun can also lead to lower vitamin D levels. Make sure to eat and drink vitamin D fortified foods, and talk to your doctor to see if you’d benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement in the winter.
If you’re aware of how changing weather affects your diabetes, you can come up with an action plan to stay within healthy A1c levels. Key points to remember are regular exercise, an adapted skincare routine, and healthy lifestyle habits surrounding your diet and hygiene. A plan of attack will let you enjoy the changing seasons and all of the fun that comes with them.