Scott’s Tricks and Tips for Skiing with Diabetes
I just finished a morning of skiing and came into the lodge for lunch. This was the first time I had skied with diabetes. I hadn’t done much preparation for the day in terms of my diabetes management. I didn’t think skiing would impact my blood sugar much. Boy was I wrong!
I did my pre-lunch blood sugar test and my reading was pretty low: 44! That was when I realized that diabetes and skiing requires a bit more preparation than just putting on skis.
Skiing is exercise that can occurs at a high altitude in extremely cold weather. That’s a lot to handle for a person with diabetes. When it’s extremely cold, blood glucose meters do not always work as they should (though now I have a CGM which helps out with this). The physical exercise involved with skiing impacts my personal blood sugar as well. Also, I’ve learned that altitude can also impact how much insulin I need.
Since my first day skiing with diabetes, I’ve worked hard to create my own personal protocols which enable me to have a successful day of skiing. This protocol includes having packed all the proper supplies, preparing my body and devices, and monitoring my levels throughout the day. I’ve listed this protocol below:
Before I go skiing, I need to make sure I am prepared for as many possible scenarios for my diabetes such as falling and knocking off my Omnipod or having to raise my blood sugar levels quickly. Below is my “diabetes ski packing list” of backup supplies.
- 20 Glucose Tablets
- 1 vial of insulin
- 1 Insulin Pen with 10 Pen Needles
- 2 Omnipods
- 1 Omnipod PDM
- 2 vials of test strips
- 6 Kind Bars
- Face mask
With all of these different devices, I am prepared for a wide variety of scenarios. Thankfully my ski coat and pants have a ton of pockets to hold all of these supplies.
Blood Sugar Prep
Before each day of skiing, I want to make sure my blood sugars levels are in range throughout the day. There are two strategies I use to help out with this. I’ve named them Big Breakfast and Temp Basal
The Big Breakfast
Big breakfast is when I ate a breakfast that contains 25-30 grams of slow acting carbs that I do not bolus for. Additionally, I try to hit the ski slope very soon after consuming this breakfast. I used this strategy during a recent ski trip and found it to be quite successful. Below is an example of a day where I used this strategy. My “Big Breakfast” this day was a potato and egg bowl.
The Temp Basal
Another approach I’ve taken is to either drastically decrease or suspend my basal rate while I am skiing throughout the day. Here, I eat a normal breakfast and provide the same insulin dose I normally would. The only difference is once I go on the slopes, I add a temporary basal or sometimes even suspend my basal rate completely.
The Day of Skiing
While skiing, I need to be aware of my levels and most importantly not go low while on the mountain. To do this, I look at my CGM reading on each chairlift ride and if I notice a downward trend, I’ll eat a Kind bar or some glucose tablets. Additionally, the exercise from skiing will typically impact my glucose levels for hours after I stop skiing.
Before I had a CGM, I tried to test my blood sugar levels every 2-3 chair lift rides. The CGM has definitely made skiing with diabetes a lot easier! I recently got an Apple Watch which allows me to view my CGM data while skiing without taking my phone or receiver out of my pocket!
Skiing with diabetes requires you to understand your body, keep track of what occurred in the past and utilize that data to figure out what works best for me. These tricks work well for me and enable me to enjoy skiing throughout the winter.
This blog was created for informational purposes only and represents the personal experience of the author. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.