Podder™ Perspective: Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day While Living with Diabetes

St. Patrick’s Day is here – time to flaunt your green garb and enjoy a pint with good friends, no matter their heritage. Eat, drink and be merry…but don’t let the leprechaun play tricks on your blood sugar. Consider these tips from fellow Podders on staying in range while drinking responsibly.

“I’m not Irish, but having lived with diabetes for 20 years, I can say that when you drink and add diabetes, “Luck favors the prepared”! If I am drinking alcohol, I keep a close eye on my blood glucose, which means I bring my blood sugar meter and my CGM. Depending on what I am drinking, in most cases for me personally, my blood sugar goes up with alcohol. However, for me, this is a temporary spike in blood sugar, so I want to be careful with how much I bolus for if I am just consuming alcohol (no food). My best practice is to wear my Dexcom G5 Mobile so that I can see the direction my sensor glucose is trending and eat something while I drink, and make sure that I am taking insulin for food that I am eating. I also bring back up glucose (such as tablets or juice) and I have someone that will support me if I need assistance.” - Jake

“The combination of diabetes and alcohol can be tricky. Over the years, I have learned tricks to best manage my blood sugar so I can enjoy a glass of wine, a fruity cocktail while on vacation, and my favorite, beer, on St. Patrick's Day. My best tool is my CGM, to help me watch my blood sugar trend before I start. Then, I take insulin to cover the amount of carbohydrate I consume, and set a lower temporary basal rate for a few hours. This helps to avoid any lows that typically occur with alcohol consumption. I also make sure to eat something, just to have something in my stomach. Before bed, I check my CGM again, and have another small snack. This has helped me avoid lows overnight, which can be dangerous and scary. I usually wake up with in-range blood sugar the following morning. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me." - Anna

“When I go out with friends and I am celebrating with alcohol, I do my best to combine carbohydrate snacks in addition to my alcohol in order to balance out the hypoglycemic effects of alcohol alone. Honestly, I love food, so it's a great excuse to be able to order an appetizer wherever we go! I also use my Dexcom CGM to fine tune my Omnipod system, whether it be a temporary basal if I am going low, or an additional bolus to cover carbs that may have been missed in my adventures!” - Ashley

“I have a few rules that I l live by when drinking alcohol. They help keep me safe which means I get to stay out longer and have more fun!

  1. EAT, drink, and be merry. This is my favorite rule because it means I get to do my favorite task—EAT! I always make sure that I am eating carbs prior to drinking. This not only helps me prevent getting too silly too quickly, but it helps prevent low BG.
  2. Less is more. I learned through trial and error that I am far more likely to have lows overnight after a night on the town. When I get home, I set a reduced temp basal rate during my hours of sleep.
  3. I always consult my physician to determine my basal and bolus rates.
  4. I “checkity checkity check it out.” BG checks keep me honest. When drinking, my inhibitions are lower (cue mom saying “make good decisions”). This means that my body can play tricks on me. I may be feeling low or high and be way off. Knowledge is power—you can properly treat a low or high when you know the number." -Alison

“As much as I love those frozen tropical drinks with a little umbrella stuck in it, I stick with red wine (and a dry one at that) because the calculations I'd have to do to temper the sweetness of the drink with what effect alcohol will have are simply too complex. It's not worth waking up with a high (or low) blood sugar from the miscalculations.” - Christel

We thank our Podder community for sharing their tips and tricks for drinking with diabetes! As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider for your individual management options.

We’re always seeking input from people like you. If you have diabetes or care for someone who does, and you’d like to be featured on an upcoming blog, email us at [email protected].