Winter weather and diabetes

Tips for diabetics to help stay healthy no matter what the weather may bring.

For people with diabetes and other chronic conditions, winter weather can produce barriers to better health. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during the winter months.

When you find yourself craving comfort foods, think of ways you can make these recipes healthier

Colder temperatures can often encourage us to want comfort foods. There’s nothing like a big bowl of steaming hot soup to make your spirits climb on those snowy days. You may find yourself craving foods like stews, casseroles and pasta dishes more than usual. Try making these dishes healthier by adding extra vegetables or using low-sodium ingredients. Watch your serving sizes and add low-carbohydrate vegetables and salads as your side dishes.

When the weather prevents you from going outdoors, find ways to remain active inside

With snowy, colder weather comes the desire to hibernate. No one wants to go outside when the weather is bad. Sometimes it’s not safe to go out in icy conditions or heavy rainfalls. However, be careful that you don’t end up hibernating and forgetting to be physically active. Find ways to remain active inside. Put on music and dance. Set up a walking path around your house or apartment even if it’s from the kitchen to the bathroom twenty times. If you have stairs, going up and down several times a day will help keep you fit. Find other locations like the grocery store or a local mall where you can walk.

Every day put a moisturizing lotion on your feet, legs, arms and hands to avoid dry skin

Winter weather dries out our skin and when you have diabetes, you are even more likely to develop dry skin during this time. To help avoid this, put a moisturizing lotion on your feet, legs, arms and hands every day (especially after bathing). These areas are most prone to dry skin and the possible development of small skin tears that can bleed and lead to infection. Remember to put moisturizer on your face too, especially if you have dry skin. The air inside our homes is drier in the winter too leading to drier skin but you can use a humidifier to increase moisture in the air.

You might need to increase your Vitamin D level during the darker days of winter

Check your mood. This might sound strange but many of us are affected by the lack of sunshine during the winter months. If you live in an area prone to many days of cloudiness and notice that you seem to lack energy or feel less happy, check with your health care provider because you may need to increase your Vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is made in our bodies from sunshine on our skin so, during winter, try to go outside every day when the sun is shining. If the weather is too cold to go outside, you can also get Vitamin D from some food sources including Vitamin D fortified milk, fish, eggs and fish oil.

Don’t let winter’s colder, snowy weather stop you from being healthy. Staying physically active and continuing to eat healthy will get you through these winter months and provide you with a great start when summer finally arrives. For more tips on healthy lifestyles, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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