How to Manage Your Diabetes on a Drinking Holiday

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

What’s a drinking holiday? It’s a little break away that involves heavy consumption of alcohol and causing your parents anxiety. In Ireland and the UK they’re pretty common holiday for young people to take. I sound like a mum but yes, they can be dangerous, especially with Type 1 Diabetes!! Heavy drinking does weird things to blood sugars. The possibility of passing out, not being woken with a low blood sugar and slipping into a coma is sickeningly real.

Much to my mum’s relief, I have partaken in many of these drinking holidays with nothing fatal ever happening. I have fallen asleep with my high heels still on yet managed to take all of my shots and go to bed with a stable blood sugar. It's possible. I’m not condoning heavy drinking, but sometimes these things just happen. If or when they do, it's best to be prepared. Whether it be a stag do, a ‘finished exams’ situation or just a weekend away with friends, I would hate to think of anyone leaving themselves out because they’re a Type 1 Diabetic and afraid of what might happen.

Keep reading for my tips on how to survive that drinking holiday.

As the night goes on, stick to sugar free.

I’m a sucker for a pina colada in a hot country and will always treat myself to one or two at the beginning of the night. However as the night goes on and the drinks keep flowing I make a swift change to vodka sodas with a lime squeeze or gin and slimlines. The point is that as you continue drinking it gets more difficult to judge how much insulin should be taken. So, if you stick to a sugar free drink you don’t need to hurt your tipsy brain with all the insulin dose math. This also reduces the risk of both hypos and high blood sugars.

Set an alarm for your long acting insulin

I take two shots of long acting insulin, one in the morning at 8am and one at 10pm. I have alarms set for both of these shots as I'm pretty strict about taking it at exactly the same time every day. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have these alarms set on a drinking holiday. Your alarm rings, you can take your shot and turn it off. Now there’s no risk of you taking it twice, not taking it at all, or taking it 4 hours too late as you completely forgot about it.

Set an alarm to check

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I genuinely never forget to check my blood sugars. This may be because I’ve been diabetic for so many years but I always check my sugars. Even still, I have alarm for this also. At around 2am when we may be returning home, my alarm rings to remind me to check. If you’re planning a later/earlier night you can adjust this time. The point is to set an alarm for when you presume you will be ready for bed. If my sugars are anything lower than 6.0 I’ll have a small snack.


This brings me on to snacks. My top tip for after drinks snacking is to stay away from share sized crisps. Believe me I understand when just one packet of doritos won’t fill your hungry, drunk stomach. In that case, buy two packets. At least then you can easily know how many carbs your consuming by reading the pack and dosing the insulin for it. I will never fail to way underestimate the amount of “servings” I’ve had when it comes to the share packs. Another one of my drunken snack go-tos are these Outeraisle cauliflower thins that you can get here. I actually bring them with me on trips if I’m staying in an apartment where I can make a sandwich before bed. They’ve only got 1g of net carbs each so I never have to worry about insulin. Plus, they're amazing!!

Wear the ID

Honestly, I understand if you don’t wear your medical ID on a daily basis. Sometimes I forget or sometimes it might just completely clash with what I’m wearing. I forgive myself for that because I feel like I have good enough control on my average days that I won't be in a vulnerable position if I don’t have it. Drinking holidays are not average days. If the one thing you take away from this post is to wear your medical ID during these breaks then I would be very happy. You can click here for some of my favourite ones that aren’t eye-sores.

Do not leave the house without at least 2 packets of lucozade tablets.

I need not explain. You can click here to stock up.

Those are my top tips to return from a drinking holiday in one piece. Obviously I'm not condoning very heavy drinking as I'm aware that's dangerous for anybody. However, I wanted to write this post to show anyone who is Type 1 Diabetic that as long as you take that extra bit of care of yourself, there's no need to be afraid of doing anything.

I hope that this has been helpful. x

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