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5 easy tips to help you take care of your diabetes this winter


The start of winter can bring a welcome change in season for some people. But the cooler weather can also add extra challenges for managing your diabetes. Here are our five top tips to help you stay on top of your diabetes this winter so you can enjoy the cooler months.

1. Eat nutritious foods that give you comfort

Winter is the perfect time to get the slow cooker out and try some new recipes. The slow cooker is also a great way to make healthy comfort food such as vegetable-rich soups and stews. You may already know there is no special diet for diabetes. People with diabetes can enjoy the same foods as everyone else. However, it is important to choose foods that are rich in nutrients. This means eating foods from the five recommended food groups, including vegetables and lentils, whole grains and cereals, fruit, dairy, and lean meat.

You can find out more about healthy eating in our range of NDSS resources. These resources also cover other topics such as healthy cooking, eating out, alcohol, and carb counting.

If you would like personal advice about food and nutrition, we suggest talking to a dietitian. You may be able to get a GP Management Plan (GPMP), which offers a Medicare rebate to see a dietitian. Talk to your GP about this.

2. Reduce your risk of getting sick

Have you had your flu vaccination yet? Flu cases are highest in the cooler months, usually between May and September. But did you know flu vaccinations are updated each year to match the latest flu viruses? That is why getting a flu vaccine each year, ideally before flu season starts, is so important.

Even if your diabetes is well-managed, you have a higher risk of getting seriously ill from the flu. A flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself. Talk to your doctor or local pharmacist to get your free flu vaccine. It is also a good time to check if you need your COVID-19 vaccine booster dose too.

Make sure your sick day kit and sick day action plan are up to date. This will help you take care of your diabetes if you become unwell. Talk to your doctor about how to do this. You can also have a look at our resources on sick day management. They have a checklist of what to have in your sick day kit.

3. Stay active

You probably know regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. It can help you manage your blood glucose levels and weight, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Not to mention the benefits it has for your mental health! But the fact is, only one in five (22.4%) adults between 18 to 64 years meet the guidelines for regular physical activity. The number is slightly higher for people over 65 years, with one in three (33.4%) meeting the recommended guidelines.

So, how much physical activity is recommended? Well, that depends on your age.

If you are between 18 and 64 years aim for 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. This means aiming for 30 to 60 minutes at least 5 days a week. Moderate physical activity can be brisk walking, swimming, or gardening.


Strength and toning exercises at least two days per week. This can be exercises such as hand weights, push-ups, yoga, or pilates.

If you are 65 years or older aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days (ideally all days) of the week.

It can be hard to feel like exercising when it is cold outside. The shorter days make it harder too. But finding small ways to add regular physical activity into your routine can help. For example, try taking the stairs instead of the lift, or lifting hand weights while watching TV. You could even use a step tracker to track your activity levels and set goals.

If you are struggling to get enough physical activity, you are not alone. The NDSS has a range of free online programs to help you get motivated, set goals, and overcome barriers to physical activity. Check out Beat It Online or Ready set go, let’s move online now.

4. Look after your feet

When it comes to looking after your feet, there are a few extra things to think about in the colder months. As diabetes can affect the feeling in your feet, it can be hard to tell when they get cold, wet, or injured. Protect your feet with warm socks and suitable footwear, especially if you are in the snow or wet weather. If you are using a hot water bottle or having a warm bath to stay cosy, it is important to check the water temperature to reduce the risk of burns to your feet. Use a thermometer or your elbow or ask a family member to check the temperature for you.

Regular foot checks at home will help you notice any changes in your feet. See your health professional straight away if you notice any changes or injuries to your feet. Treating any foot problems early is important to reduce the risk of more severe complications. You can find more information on foot care and changes to look out for on the FootForward website.

5. Stay on top of your emotional health

The shorter days during winter can impact mood and emotional health. Taking care of your diabetes can be the last thing you feel like doing. However, being aware of how you feel and taking steps to look after your emotional health during this time will help. Remember, small steps done often, add up to big changes overall. Some steps you can take to look after your emotional health include:

  • having a strong support system around you
  • making time for physical activity
  • eating well most of the time
  • practicing mindfulness exercises
  • getting enough sleep
  • being kind to yourself.

To find out more about these steps, have a look at the NDSS article 7 practical tips to look after your mental health and diabetes.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to managing emotional health, but know you are never alone. There are many resources on emotional health and diabetes to support you. You can also call the NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700 to speak to a health professional who can help.

Diabetes Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this Country. We recognise their connection to land, waters, winds and culture. We pay the upmost respect to them, their cultures and to their Elders, past and present. We are committed to improving health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by diabetes and those at risk.

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