The T1D Beach Guide
Thinking of escaping the heat and hitting the beach this summer? We certainly don’t blame you … AND we’ve totally got you covered! Here are some tips and tricks for navigating the waves of type 1 diabetes while you’re having fun in the sun.
Staying hydrated is perhaps the #1 most important thing to keep in mind while out in the harsh sun, and this is true whether you have type 1 diabetes or not.
- Bring a large bottle of water with you (or several!) And take note of where you can get refills if necessary.
- It is especially important for many people to replenish electrolytes, especially when sweating. Since sugary beverages such as Gatorade are not such a good idea for those of us with type 1 diabetes (T1D)—there are convenient little pouches of electrolyte powder that can be added to water. Ultima Replenisher is a great option, with a variety of flavors and ZERO carbs!
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, milk and sodas.
Bring a cooler
Bringing a small cooler with you to the beach allows for much more convenience with regard to food and insulin storage. You won’t have to worry about only bringing non-perishable food, which means more low-carb snack options like cheese or meats. Also, your insulin will stay cool for hours.
- Check out Frio cooling pouches for a more portable option if you only need to worry about keeping your insulin cool.
- Insulated cooling totes are also available for a slightly more functional, less bulky option!
- Insulin is NOT SAFE in the heat, so it is very important to keep your insulin cold while at the beach.
- Heat can also alter the effectiveness of supplies such as test strips and blood glucose (BG) meters. Be sure to check the labels on all of your supplies for specific temperature requirements.
Low carb snacks
- If you do bring along a cooler, proteins such as turkey, chicken, tuna, tofu / soy alternatives, or cheese are great to bring along to keep you full, without the blood sugar spikes!
- Chopped veggie sticks & hummus
- Raw or lightly salted nuts and seeds
- Certain flavors of nut-based KIND Bars (like Caramel Almond Sea Salt) are lower in carbs and easy to pack.
- Nut butter pouches
- Beef or turkey jerky (with no added sugars)
Snacks for lows
Let’s face it, low blood sugars happen—even on vacation! Here are some easy quick sugar options to have at-the-ready.
- Glucose tabs
- Fruit leather
- Fruit gummies
- Honey Stingers Gels
- Skittles (these come in mini pouches!)
- Small juice boxes
- And always remember your emergency glucagon (nasal glucagon or injectable) for extreme hypoglycemia.
Both swimming and sweating can at times make your devices’ adhesives slightly less sticky. Here are some options to utilize (adhesive tape, wipes and sprays) to keep your continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and pump sites in place while you take full advantage of your beach adventures.
Disconnecting from your pump
- If you wear an insulin pump with tubing, be sure to contact your doctor about how long it is safe for you to disconnect from your pump if you go into the water.
- OmniPod pods are safe to swim with, but the OmniPod Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) cannot get wet.
- If you foresee being in the water for a substantial length of time, over the course of several days—you may also discuss with your doctor the option of going on a “pump break”—(switching back to pens or injections via syringe for a short length of time.)
Keep a close eye on BG levels!
Being out in the elements can definitely cause blood sugar levels to become a bit unpredictable. Keep a close eye on your CGM and/or test manually to check for accuracy, especially if you are feeling strange. Keep your insulin and quick sugar close by!
- Heat can spike blood sugar levels if we are not properly hydrated, as blood glucose becomes more concentrated.
- Blood sugar levels can also drop very low in the heat, especially if combined with physical activity, due to expanded blood vessels speeding up insulin absorption.