The monsoons are synonymous with petrichor, cloudy skies, football in the rain and endless cups of chai. They are a welcome and relaxing treat after months of scorching heat and what better way to welcome them than with a plate piled high with crispy, delightful pakodas! Oh dear, I think I got carried away. Whether or not we have (any form of) Diabetes, we all get a little carried away sometimes; we are human after all. For people living with any chronic conditions, it is important to remember the basics of managing the condition along with living and enjoying life as it comes. In this article we will discuss the special care that needs to be taken by people living with Diabetes in the monsoons. Having said that, I would also like to add that well managed Diabetes is the leading cause of nothing (meaning normoglycemia results in no Diabetes related complications), so the goal should always be to manage our blood glucose levels to the best of our capabilities.
Infections and bacteria multiply at an alarming rate in the rains. It is vital that people living with Diabetes maintain a good level of personal hygiene to avoid contracting infections or colds. Stay away from mosquito infested areas and stagnant water.
Feet and toenails are more susceptible to infections in the damp weather and it is a good idea to always wipe them dry and carry along extra pairs of socks if needed.
Feet should be kept dry and clean at all times, especially the webs between the toes to ensure no fungal infection develops. As always, we should self-examine our feet daily for cracks or lesions and visit a podiatrist regularly to ensure everything is fine.
Keeping our medicines and Diabetes supplies safe is important in all seasons. However some special care needs to be taken with respect to the rainy season. Glucometer and ketone strips are significantly affected by humidity and temperature so ensure you keep them tightly shut in the container and expose them for as less time as possible.
Be it the weather or the popular monsoon culture of partaking in piping chai and pakodas, always remember that food is fuel for the body. It is our job to nourish and nurture our bodies with healthy, whole foods so that our bodies serve us well. We should eat enough protein at meals to feel satiety and avoid the temptation to indulge in constant snacking, which may lead to over eating and over consumption of calories which in turn could lead to weight gain, obesity and related complications. A good trick is to swap out unhealthy, high carb ingredients and foods for healthy and low carb ones. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, have freshly cooked home food and stay well hydrated. Do consult your healthcare professionals to discuss these options and swap recipes with your other friends with Diabetes!
Exercise can also become a challenge during the rains. For those of us used to exercising outdoors, be it walking, running or trekking, the weather conditions can sometimes pause or stop our planned exercise activities. We all know that it takes a long time to build a habit and it's much easier to fall off the wagon. The weather should not be an excuse to stop exercising altogether. You can consider doing home or gym exercises such as walking or running on the treadmill, strength training, yoga and stretches, running up and down the stairs and all exercise ideas that are not dependent on the weather and that can be done at home.
Last but not the least, different seasons can also have an impact on our moods and mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder is common during the winters and rains when there is less sunlight and the weather is more dark and gloomy overall. People with Diabetes are 2 to 3 times more prone to mental health issues than non-diabetics. The motivation for self-care, eating healthy and exercising may diminish resulting in hyperglycaemia. This makes it especially important to stay in touch with a peer support group and share your feelings without fear of judgement. I often find myself scrolling through our Facebook community, Diabetes Support Network India and I immediately feel pepped up and supported.
Stay connected, healthy and enjoy the monsoon months!
Nupur Lalvani is the Founder Director NGO Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation, Certified Diabetes Educator who lives with type 1 Diabetes