As a type 1 diabetic who considers the beach their second home, I can say that Beyond Type 1’s “T1D Beach Guide” is spot-on. While splashing in the waves or sunning oneself on the sand, there are a few essential things that type 1 diabetics should keep in mind.
Beyond Type 1 first mentions the importance of hydration for both diabetics and non-diabetics. I always bring a big reusable water bottle, preferably one that keeps the water inside cool. The beach heat can be severely dehydrating, so adding some electrolytes to water will provide the right fuel for a fun beach day. Beyond Type 1 recommends Ultima Replenisher, which has zero carbs and a ton of flavors. I love Crystal Light Pure, which has zero carbs per serving, no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. My favorite flavor is tangerine mango! Staying adequately hydrated also helps balance blood glucose levels
As Beyond Type 1 notes, making sure your diabetes supplies are out of the direct sun is extremely important. It’s easy to accidentally leave an insulin pen or a container of test strips just sitting out on a towel–but this could, unfortunately, render them completely unusable. To be safe, I usually bring a small portable cooling bag for my supplies.
The heat not only affects supplies; it also affects how one feels. Heat and constant sunshine can make one feel light-headed and drained, making it much harder to detect changes in one’s blood glucose levels. Beyond Type 1 also mentions that dehydration from sweat can spike blood glucose levels while playing in the waves, and running around in the sand can cause levels to plummet. One beach day, I thought I had low blood sugar because I was so tired. However, when I checked my continuous glucose monitor, my number was in the high 200s. This experience was unsettling, but it reminded me that it’s important to keep a constant watch on my CGM while at the beach.
Beyond Type 1 recommends bringing easily packable snacks to the beach, including a cooler if you’re packing fresh food. I usually pack low-carb snacks such as veggies and hummus or parmesan crisps. When low blood sugar strikes, it’s also vital for type 1 diabetics to have fast-acting sugar in their beach bag. My favorite treat is fruit snacks because they are delicious and easy to consume quickly.
Last but not least, Beyond Type 1 recommends using a quality adhesive to ensure your CGM or pump stays on amidst all the beach day fun. Saltwater and sand are tough on adhesive, causing it to erode. I once lost my CGM in the ocean after I got tumbled by a wave. Since then, I have always wiped my CGM site with an extra Skin Tac wipe before heading off to the beach.
With the proper preparation, type 1 diabetics can “navigate the waves” of their disease at the beach. Thankfully, with new technology rising out of innovative diabetic research, beach days can include less fret and a lot more fun for type 1 diabetics.
This blog was written by Lauren Grove, DRC Intern, who has had T1D for 15 years and is responding to the article, “The T1D Beach Guide.”