Heading to the beach?! So are millions of others who travel abroad each year. But before you are enjoying the sand between your toes, it would be worth your time to consider these tips for beachgoers with diabetes.
Beaches can be very different in different parts of the world. But generally speaking, it gets hot out there! Certain diabetes medications can increase your sensitivity to sun exposure, so it is a good idea to check in with your diabetes team before hitting the beach. If it is sunny out, sunscreen and sunglasses are a must! And don’t forget, sunscreen is not meant to last all day—careful reapplication is vital, especially after a dip in the ocean or if you engage in a strenuous activity that leaves you sweating the sunscreen away.
If you are going for a dip in the ocean, make sure you add that to your exercise considerations for the day. It may not be a cross-city walk or a long run, but it still burns calories and may affect your insulin sensitivity! Swimming in the ocean also means exposure to saltwater, an important consideration for your hydration needs.
Dehydration is a fun-spoiler for any day at the beach. In order to avoid it, plan ahead and think carefully about what your day at the beach will entail. Will it include running, swimming, alcohol, or be hot out? All of these factors should be considered when you are deciding how much water to pack or how much money to bring for purchasing beverages.
Food and Drinks
If you are staying at a high class resort, alcoholic beverages may be the selection of choice. If you are at a local state beach, a vending machine or snack shack with high carb and high calorie options may be all that is available. Either way, the options may not be ideal. Packing your own snacks and drinks is likely the best option. If you do end up splurging on alcohol at the beach, or if you pack your own, remember to take this into consideration when thinking through how much water and alternative food options you will need throughout the day.
While you are warming up at the beach, don’t forget that the sand is too! While this may seem enjoyable at first, a full day on the sand can sometimes lead to skin irritations, blisters, or burns. If you are traveling, you need to keep your feet healthy! Wear beach shoes while walking, and regularly check the skin of your feet throughout the day in order to limit your risk.
Unfortunately, some people with diabetes lose their ability to feel pain on the soles of their feet (neuropathy). This is very dangerous when walking barefoot, especially at the beach where there is often sharp rocks or trash. Check the soles of your feet often for cuts, blisters, and abrasions. If in doubt, seek medical advice promptly.
Storing Your Equipment
Because the beach can heat up quickly, it is important to keep in mind how this could affect your diabetes equipment. Standard recommendations state that insulin should not be kept in direct heat or direct sunlight. The best option to avoid these situations would be to utilize one of many cooling packs that have been designed specifically for storing insulin in hot weather. If you don’t have a cooling pack, then storing insulin in a bag or the shade are two good ways to keep your equipment from overheating.