Living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and consuming alcohol can be a tricky mix. Type 1 diabetes puts a wrench in a lot of those everyday freedoms most people take for granted, such as consuming alcohol. It can make something that used to be fun and breezy, feel scary, stressful, and potentially dangerous. The good news is, almost everything enjoyed pre type 1 diabetes diagnosis can also be enjoyed afterwards. It just takes a little more thought.
Being prepared for a night out with friends, a boozy brunch or even just a drink in the park can make all the difference in a successful experience. Having some tips and extra knowledge in your back pocket can seriously help conquer any situation where alcohol and type 1 diabetes may intersect. It’s important to learn how to balance not letting diabetes control your life, but also not neglecting your health.
As someone who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 16 (the height of my rebellious years), I wish I had some real guidance on the effects of alcohol on my body. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way and that was not fun!
The being said, I’ve compiled some tips that have helped me feel safe, in control, and confident while consuming alcohol with T1D!
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Assess the Situation
Consuming alcohol with a big dinner can be drastically different than consuming alcohol while out dancing with friends. Always take into consideration what you will be doing while drinking, specifically whether food will be involved. Eating a lot of food greatly changes the effects of alcohol on your blood glucose levels. Learn about what kind of alcohol works for you in different scenarios.
For example, if I am eating a lot of carbs with dinner, I’ll opt for a drink with fewer carbs. Try a dry wine or mixed drink with soda water. On the other hand, if I am dancing and drinking, or any other activity where there’s not a lot of food involved, I will always make sure my drink has some carbs in it. A beer or a mixed drink with juice will work well in this scenario. I know that for my body if I drink and exercise (dance) and don’t have carbs I will definitely have a low blood sugar episode.