A Type 1 Diabetic’s Guide to Holiday Parties

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays are here, people are rushing around grabbing last minute gifts for loved ones, baking cookies left and right, and wearing matching pajamas like it’s a federal law. Our Decembers are filled with the usual “I just have so much to do” chatter and us diabetics are just hoping Santa puts some insulin under the tree.

There are many things that can make the holidays a little extra stressful and having a broken pancreas is definitely one of them. Watching our numbers while running around shopping, guessing the number of carbohydrates in grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookies, and trying to find the perfect holiday outfit to compliment our many robot parts can be more than overwhelming when the usual festivities of December already make us feel like a holiday chicken with its head cut off.

As diabetics, holiday parties can be extra tricky to navigate. Due to us having to consider everything we eat, drink and feel, a holiday party is sure to be an obstacle (but a festive obstacle nonetheless). I wanted to share some tips I use to stay on track and responsible with your diabetes during the holidays.


Keep an eye on your sugars

It’s easy to forget you’re diabetic when you’re 8 rounds into family monopoly and the plate of Christmas cookies follows you around every corner. Make a mental note to check your sugars every few hours to avoid an accidental blood sugar spike. Preventing these spikes will help you avoid being sassy and yelling at your great aunt the moment she dozes off for the 5th time but still insists on playing the game for some reason.

Pre-bolus by 15-20 minutes

The easiest way to avoid blood sugar spikes during holiday parties (or any function really, or basically before any meal ever) is to pre-bolus 15-20 minutes before you eat a meal or a big ol cookie. Pre-bolus-ing is the act of giving insulin for the amount of food you are planning to eat 15-20 minutes before you eat it. This allows the insulin to begin to absorb just as your carbohydrates begin to absorb, making the blood sugars less likely to spike while waiting for insulin to kick in. Just don’t forget that you already took insulin…


Sacrifices aren’t the end of the world

I’m not saying this is something that will always be true, but at the end of the day, maybe its easier to sacrifice a second cookie or a full glass of holiday sangria for better blood sugars for the night. Listen to your body. If your sugars have been rocking and you’re feeling great, have the cookie and guestimate the carbohydrates and if you’re wrong and you end up with high blood sugar well nobody is perfect. But if this is your 4th holiday party this week and you leave feeling like crap every night, maybe listen to your body and skip the second snowman cookie. You know yourself best.

Take family suggestions or criticism with a grain of salt

Having diabetes isn’t easy. It’s a full-time job on top of everything else you have going on in your life. I understand that family members love you, but they probably don’t know the in’s and out’s of your everyday diabetes management. It gets annoying when you gather around the table for your grand ‘ol holiday dinner and the conversation veers more towards their opinions of how you should live, rather than the normal awkward politics route.


Keep calm, understand that they just want what’s best for you, and educate educate educate! Let them know that not every day will lead to perfect blood sugars! Explain that desserts are not the enemy here! And remind them that diabetics are allowed to drink alcohol! Generally, family members love you and learning more about how you take care of yourself is something they enjoy.

And then take a long sip of wine and change the subject.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the cheese plate is your friend

Hang out with the nice, always reliable, low to no carb options. Cheese plates will do no wrong. A veggie plater? Don’t mind if I do. Is your blood sugar not a fan of the spiked hot cocoa? Whip out a nice 0 carb spiked seltzer. Flex your diabetic knowledge of the low carb options in your vicinity and go wild.

giphy (1)

I hope my tips help you go off into the weekend with positive and festive thoughts about how to tackle the upcoming holidays with ease.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday with even happier blood sugars.

– Ariana


Leave a Reply