Summer is one of the best seasons for multiple reasons: we’re in full vacation mode, the sun is shining, the grills are sizzling and the beach is calling more often than not. There is only one not necessarily welcome thing that the summer brings…the heat!
Staying hydrated and avoiding being overheated is important for everyone, but it can be especially critical for people with diabetes and other related chronic conditions. Overheating can potentially lead to dehydration, which may impact your time in range. If you’re someone using insulin, it can get impacted if it’s left out in the heat for too long. Certain medications used for cholesterol and blood pressure management can also cause you to be more sensitive to the sun.
While your own personal care team can help you with solving some of these potential concerns, never fear your favorite RD is here with some tips that will help in the tastebud department and keep you cool all summer long!
Frozen treats are notorious for having lots of carbohydrates and sugar. While all foods can work for people with diabetes and related chronic conditions, it is important to discuss with your care team how to best moderate these and incorporate them into your own way of eating. Check out some typical frozen treat favorites and some diabetes friendly versions below!
In the grand scheme of things, popsicles aren’t really the highest carbohydrate frozen treat. You can make them even more nutritious by crafting your own with fruit and either a liquid of your choice or Greek yogurt and freezing in molds until ready to enjoy. The fruit will add some additional vitamins and Greek yogurt will add protein to the treat to keep you fuller and aid in stabilizing blood sugars.
- Make sure that when choosing your yogurt or liquid that you aim for foods with 10g of added sugar or less to promote a favorable blood sugar response.
- Try chocolate coconut water and chopped strawberries for a hydrating chocolate covered strawberry treat on the go!
Ice Cream, Smoothies and Sherbet
Ice cream is one of the most classic frozen treats around, but can be seen as a hard-to-bolus for food for some due to its high sugar and fat content. The high saturated fat can also be seen as a concern for those with chronic conditions such as high cholesterol.
Grocery stores sell sugar-free or low carb ice creams, smoothies or sherbets, but it is even easier to just make it yourself at home! Typically, I have some form of unsweetened non-dairy milk (great for people on a vegan diet, but also low in carbs) and frozen fruit around for smoothies that can be repurposed to make sherbet. Dairy milk can also be used, but keep in mind that it can add more carbohydrates and dietary fat to the sherbet. As long as you have a high powered blender and 5 minutes, you can make your own treat in no time or effort!
- I usually add a sweetener, such as erythritol or monk fruit, to minimize the impact to my blood sugars without having to think about it. You can also use real sugar or honey as long as you are mindful of your portion sizes and the amount used.
As simple as this seems, frozen fruit is one of the most underrated frozen treats out there for people with diabetes. You can buy and store a large amount at a time, the fruit is frozen at its peak ripeness, and it’s so versatile! From freezing and enjoying as-is to adding to sparkling water for an ice cube that doubles as a snack, frozen fruit is definitely something that you can use to keep you cool, hydrated and meeting your personal fiber goals.
- You can also freeze fresh fruit, especially those that have been hanging out in your fridge for a couple weeks! Watermelon is especially a great choice for this as its water content is more than 90%. Just blend fresh watermelon cubes and place in an ice cube mold. Freeze until solid and you have a natural popsicle, or a fun addition to your sparkling water or low carb summer cocktails. The watermelon cube eventually melts and transforms the beverage into something more fun and substantial. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider about incorporating alcoholic beverages before trying this one out though!
While you can have a slice of ice cream cake and eat it too, the simple swaps above can help to keep you beat the heat and help you conquer your diabetes and related chronic conditions during these summer months!
Here’s a recipe to also keep you cool this summer. This smoothie bowl recipe is packed with heart healthy ingredients and can easily be transformed into a refreshing acaí sorbet. Just add a lower sugar or plain yogurt to help increase thickness and creaminess!
Smoothie Bowl Recipe (PDF)
Be sure to track your food intake and write down the recipes for your creations in the notes section of the recently redesigned Glooko® Mobile App. You can share the data with your provider and tweak the recipe to continue to improve the response it has for you.
Stay cool (and hydrated!),
Bridget Wood, RD, LD, CDCES