It’s been a while since I’ve last written a post. I was honestly too busy enjoying every last minute I had in America before my visa finished up and the government rudely sent me home. This involved going out, eating out, too much wine and espresso martinis. It was like a little pre-festive season or as we’d call in Ireland, 'The Xmas Bendy'. However, after a few days of roller-coaster sugar levels, I needed to remind myself that I can enjoy and take care of myself at the same time. This guide isn’t to promote drinking, but with the festive season approaching, I know how easy it is to let your diabetes control take the back seat. These are my top tips on how to survive the xmas bendy!
Stick to Sugar Free
I know how tempting it is to drink espresso martinis all night, but trust me when I say it shouldn’t be done. Firstly, they’re strong. After just three I’ll wake up the next morning with a face still full of make-up and a headache. Secondly, it’s almost impossible to judge how much insulin to take with each one. You’ll either end up with a high or a low. This goes for any cocktail really. I start the night off with one, then switch to a low-sugar drink. This will either be a dry wine (Pinot Grigio or Cabernet Sauvignon) or a vodka soda. The vodka sodas are a little strong in America so I often ask if the bar has any spiked seltzers- a mix of vodka and sugar free flavoured soda in a little can. You can click here for some of my favourite low sugar alcoholic drinks.
Avoid the Share Packs
Does anyone ever really know what a ‘serving’ is? It’s difficult enough to judge how much insulin to take with what you think was a serving, never-mind after a few drinks when you’ve just violently underestimated how much you ate. I will always want a packet of crisps after a night out. However, every time I’ve come home and there’s one of those monstrous share bags of Tostitos sitting there, I have a serving and wake up to a number in the 20s. This is because I didn’t have a serving. I went and ate nearly the entire ridiculously large pack. As I clearly can’t be trusted with a share pack, I now stick to the little individual packets so I can correctly judge how much insulin to take. One of my favourites are the low-carb tortilla chips from Quest Nutrition. With only 5g of carbs, you don't even need to worry about insulin. You can click here to get a variety pack of all the different flavours.
Have Someone to Control You
The fact that houses are stocked with chocolate boxes and festive snacks during this holiday doesn’t help anyone’s case. After one morning of waking up with a high blood sugar and covered in crumbs, I asked my friends to stop me from over-eating when we get home. It’s not easy, but they do a very good job of wrestling popcorn out of my hands and emptying it into a bin. I’d recommend doing the same. It has honestly worked wonders for my morning sugar levels.
Remember the Hypo
Everybody’s different, but it’s very common for a low blood sugar to follow a night of drinking. I was told that my sugars would drop overnight so I’d need to have a snack before bed. This wasn’t actually the case for me and gave me high blood sugars in the morning followed by a severe drop when I’d take correction insulin. I’d recommend keeping a note of if and when an alcohol hypo usually occurs for you so that you’ll be able to prevent it next time. For example, my blood sugars always drop the next morning, so I take half the amount of insulin that I normally would with breakfast. I always keep a banana beside my bed in-case I have a late breakfast the following day and need a sugar-kick before it.
Set an Alarm
There’s one thing that I started doing this past year that has been a blessing to my sugar levels. That is, taking my background insulin at the same time every day. Every day without fail I take one shot in the morning at 8am and one in the evening at 9pm so I have a constant bit of insulin in me. It’s a pain, but I stick to this routine even when I’m out. I set two alarms so I don’t forget. If I put off taking my evening background shot when my alarm rings, it’s dangerously easy to forget about it later.
Those are my top tips for surviving this excessive festive season with Type 1 diabetes. I’m not trying to promote drinking and I know that a lot of type 1 diabetics avoid alcohol completely! However, I’m a firm believer that anyone should be able to enjoy themselves with or without diabetes, it's just a matter of taking care of yourself. Hope you enjoyed!