The school holidays and Christmas are a welcome break for most families but the lack of routine can prove a trying time for families living with Type 1 Diabetes.
Going away on holidays, food temptations and increased activity are likely so it is important to remain vigilant when it comes to managing your diabetes.
We asked Princess Margaret Hospital clinical nurse/diabetes educator Kelly West for her top tips for remaining on target:
Most important thing to remember when out of normal routine? Changes in routine, particularly around the extended Christmas break period, can impact our blood glucose levels. These may include staying up late, sleeping in and eating breakfast late and all of these factors may impact on our blood glucose levels. The only way we know what our blood glucose levels are is by monitoring, monitoring, monitoring! If you are using Continuous Glucose Monitoring, review your trace, look for trends and make adjustments as needed.
What about being more active? When engaging in activity, know where your blood glucose levels are at the start, during and after the activity. Glucose uptake can continue for some time following intense activity and may result in an unexpected hypoglycaemic event later on. Depending on what your blood glucose level is before activity, you may need to consider a carbohydrate-containing snack.
Is it OK to indulge in a few treats on Christmas Day? Over indulgence is common on Christmas Day. If using a pump, consider the pump functions available to manage the “grazing-style” habits we tend to engage in on Christmas Day and refer to your clinic team for suggestions.
If you use multiple daily injections, consider what you are about to eat, your current glucose level and dose for this. If you feel you ate more than you intended to, check blood glucose levels two hours later and correct if you need to. Always be mindful of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating when planning your plate.
How do I manage my diabetes if I have a long flight and/or change time zones? Start preparing early, obtain travel letters from your doctor and ensure you have sufficient supplies. Diabetes Australia have produced a detailed fact sheet for travelling with diabetes.
There’s no better time to hit the beach or pool than in the summer school holidays. Here’s Kelly West’s top tips for juggling swimming and diabetes:
Remember that your pump should not be disconnected for more than two hours at a time — if you disconnect your pump for swimming, return regularly, check blood glucose and bolus as needed.
When heading off to the beach for the day, be prepared. Take plenty of water as the heat can dehydrate us very rapidly.
Make sure you have your ‘hypo kit’ packed and consider a medic alert bracelet for improved safety. Also don’t forget to 'slip, slap, slop' using a very high-factor sunscreen.
Consider the safety of your equipment on the beach, keep any insulin out of direct sunlight, avoid getting sand in your pump and don’t leave your possessions unattended in case would-be thieves show an interest. Consider if your pump is covered by your household insurance against theft.
The team at the Children’s Diabetes Centre wish everyone a safe and relaxing break over the festive season.