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Summer Diabetes Management

Summer is a time for outdoor picnics, amusement parks, road trips and vacations. For the 24 million people living with diabetes in the United States, these fun summer events can pose some of the greatest challenges to testing regimens and diet.

Diabetic Care Services, a leading national mail order diabetic supply and pharmacy, has partnered with Kent State University’s nutrition department to offer testing and nutrition tips for maintaining effective diabetes self-management when summer – and its biggest distractions – are in full swing.


Marc Wolf – a registered pharmacist with more than 28 years of experience serving diabetic patients and founder and CEO of Diabetic Care Services – provides tips on protecting testing supplies and insulin in the summer heat and helping manage diabetes while on the go.

Protecting Testing Supplies and Insulin

  • Keep meters, test strips and insulin out of direct sunlight. If supplies and medications are outside at a picnic, on the beach or in a locked car, be sure to pack supplies in a dark protective carrying case with a gel ice pack to prevent damage from extreme temperatures.
  • Keep carrying case and testing supplies dry. Testing supplies exposed to humidity can provide altered blood glucose test results.
  • Always travel with an extra set of supplies stored in a separate carrying case so there is a backup if the first set is damaged. Never use test strips stored in cracked or damaged bottles. When flying, pack supplies and medications in carry-on luggage to avoid having them damaged or exposed to extreme temperatures in the plane’s cargo hold.

  • Management While Traveling
  • Access to proper meals at usual times may be limited while traveling. Always travel with snacks in pre-measured serving sizes just in case. Glucerna and Extend both make travel bars for diabetics that are available at
  • Continuing to monitor blood glucose on a regular schedule is imperative. When traveling across time zones, carry a second watch or clock set to your home time for the first few days until you adjust to the new schedule.
  • Always bring extra supplies. It is a good idea to test more often when traveling because routines will inevitably be disrupted.
  • If an insulin injection will be needed on an airplane, contact your insulin manufacturer for any special instructions to accommodate the pressure inside the plane.
  • Pack several pairs of comfortable, closed-toe shoes and plenty of clean socks that you can change often to prevent soreness and blisters on feet if doing a lot of walking. Invest in special diabetic socks, like DiaSox available at, which are made to keep feet dry, cool and promote good blood flow.
  • Always carry or wear medical identification that indicates you have diabetes.

    Jodie Luidhardt, a licensed and registered dietitian at Kent State University, provides nutrition tips for eating healthy and staying hydrated throughout the summer.

    Navigating the Buffet Table

  • Focus on piling your plate with colorful vegetables rather than white refined carbohydrates, like bread, chips, or pasta. Always choose whole grains when possible.
  • Because carbohydrates are often top of mind for people with diabetes, it is easy to overcompensate with extra servings of protein. But eating too much red meat can lead to heart disease. Rather than a burger, ribs or steak, opt for grilled chicken or fish. Warning: avoid foods with heavy black charring from the grill. It may add flavor, but some recent studies suggest those black marks may be carcinogenic.
  • Research indicates that diabetics with a higher intake of soy protein have a lower risk of kidney failure. To include more soy in your picnic diet, opt for veggie burgers, add edamame to salads or try making “egg” salad with tofu instead.
  • If you feel like indulging or do not have access to a healthier option - compensate. For example, use a small plate when selecting dessert, or opt for fresh fruit.
  • Take your time and socialize while you are eating. It removes the focus from the food and allows you to get fuller faster and consume fewer calories.

  • Staying Hydrated
  • The average person should consume 64 fluid ounces of water per day. For people with diabetes, this is particularly important because dehydration can cause false high readings. If you are perspiring from heat or exercise, be sure to drink extra water.
  • Even when opting for diet soda, only drink one per day. If you will not have access to water, or if you are looking for a little more flavor, brew homemade drinks and carry them in a thermos. Unsweetened iced tea and lemonade made from water, fresh squeezed lemons and mint are full of flavor and will keep you hydrated without the added sugar.
  • Consuming alcohol on an empty stomach can cause a spike in sugar, so always drink alcohol with a meal. Women should have no more than one serving per day, and men should have no more than two servings per day.
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