Handling your Diabetes while on a Winter Vacation

Posted by Jen on March 21, 2011

There are 23.6 million people in the United States who have diabetes. That includes someone in my family.

A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated because the body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces.  It is treated by healthy eating and insulin.

diabetes (diabetes)

My husband Mark has Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent.)  He was diagnosed when he was 17 and has managed to have a very athletic life.  He was a ski racer and professional baseball player. When one person in a family is affected by this disease, the whole family is affected.  It is something that has to be considered when planning your winter vacation. Luckily, in our case, the disease is in control and doesn’t hold us back.  However, many people with diabetes are nervous about trying new physical activities.  They are unsure of how skiing or boarding might affect them physically.

With proper planning, a winter sports vacation can go without a hitch.  It’s all in how you prepare.  Here are a few things to consider:

1.  Testing your blood sugar can be a challenge on the mountain.  Remember to pack your meter.  Cold fingers don’t always agree with testing!  Step into a mid-mountain restaurant to warm up those hands.  Consider testing every 2 hours (newbies might want to try testing every hour just to get a feel for how their sugars are running). You do burn a lot of energy out there on the mountain!    Meters and insulin are temperature sensitive.  Think about renting a locker for these items or pack them in a coat pocket that is close to your body.

2.  Pack snacks.  There are many quick energy options out there. Remember, juice is really your best rebound option.  Grape, orange and apple are the best.  Take some along in a backpack.  Most restaurants on the mountain have these available as well. Take along your glucose tablets or consider having Skittles and a Snickers bar at the ready!

3.  Eat breakfast, take a snack, and STOP for lunch.  Not only is it so fun to take a break and enjoy the view but your body will thank you! 

4.  Wear your medical ID bracelet.  Mountain patrol can’t help you if they don’t know your situation.

5.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

6.  Never let a person with diabetes ski alone. It’s just common sense.

If you have someone in your life who has diabetes and has yet to tackle winter sports, consider introducing them to Kris Freeman.  This young man is a Nordic skier who lives with Type 1 diabetes, truly an inspiration.  Or contact me, I’ll hook you up with a real pro!    

See you on the mountain.  Guaranteed I have candy in my pocket!


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