Friday, May 24, 2013



Compiled by: 
Manager, Dept of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dr Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre 

Summer is here, like all of us, you probably like to go for picnics during vacation. Even people with diabetes can enjoy the vacation; all you have to do is to take special precautions and proper planning well in advance anticipating the challenging situations.

It is a big challenge to handle summer heat during vacations. Dehydration can happen on these very hot summer days whether you have diabetes or not. If you have diabetes, dehydration also can occur when blood glucose is not under control. When blood glucose is elevated, it can lead to an increase in the body's excretion of urine. Hence for people with diabetes, drinking extra water is particularly important because dehydration can cause falsely high blood sugar readings.

It is good to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion since the risk is higher in people with diabetes
·         Feeling dizzy or fainting
·         Excessive sweating
·         Muscle cramping
·         Headaches
·         Rapid heartbeat
·         Nausea

If heat exhaustion is not taken care of, it can quickly progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is a more urgent matter and is a medical emergency. Hence if the above mentioned symptoms occur immediately take rest in a cool place and drink more water.
Nutrition Tips for Managing Diabetes during summer
The average person should consume two liters of fluid of water per day. For people with diabetes, this is particularly important because dehydration can cause false high blood sugar readings. Unlike a person without diabetes, diabetes patient cannot drink fruit juices, tender coconut water etc. However, other than the plain drinking water you can take

  • Diluted skimmed buttermilk
  • Lemon / Tomato juice (without sugar)
  • Iced tea (without sugar)
  • Drinking water with Pudina / Tulsi leaves/ Jeera

Include plenty of high fiber green leafy vegetables like cabbage, greens, plantain stem, bitter gourd etc.

During summer certain food items are available in market which can help you to handle summer heat such as
·         Watermelon/Muskmelon
When blood sugar is well under control, small portion (100 gms/ serving) of these fruits can be consumed as a whole fruit and not as a juice.
·         Raw Mangoes
Raw mangoes can be taken as juice along with pudina leaves or it can be prepared as a soup
·         Cucumber
Cucumber is a low calorie vegetable which can be included in form of salad or raitha or as a minted cucumber lassi (without sugar).
·         Gourd family (watery) vegetables
You can include gourd family vegetables like ash gourd, snake gourd, bottlle gourd, bitter gourd on daily basis.

When you are on vacation you may not be able to get exactly the same food items which are  recommended by your dietitian, so it is always better to travel with snacks like whole wheat bread,/multi grain bread/ rice flakes/puffed rice etc in pre-measured serving sizes.

It is better to restrict fried foods and avoid foods with heavy black charring from the grill. It may add flavor, but these black marks may be carcinogenic

Instead of white refined cereals like maida, bombay rawa etc include whole grains and colour your plate with rainbow colour low calorie vegetables.

Summer/Vacation Tips

·   Exercise in a cool place such as an air-conditioned gym, or early in the morning or later in the evening. when temperatures are cooler and the sun is not at its peak. Take liquids before and after exercise.

·    Wear a comfortable, closed-toe shoe and you should change the socks often to prevent soreness and blisters on feet.

  ·    Check your blood glucose levels on daily basis and more often if especially if you are not feeling well. Remember that heat can cause blood glucose levels to fluctuate.

·         Store your blood glucose meter, strips and insulin in a cool, dry place. Do not store insulin in extreme temperatures. Never store insulin in the freezer or in direct sunlight as far as possible. 

·         Always carry your diabetes identification card that indicates you have diabetes.
Summer is a time for outdoor picnics, amusement parks, road trips and vacations. It is a time to enjoy with family, friends. To enjoy the vacation to the fullest follow the above recommended tips. Eating healthy even while on vacation is a key step to staying healthy
If you do some advanced planning summer can still be a safe and enjoyable time of the year.