29 December 2020

Booze and the ‘betes

With the holidays arriving and the new year almost knocking on our doors, most of us will happily leave 2020 behind and forget all about it. But for some of us, 2020 has actually been the year of new opportunities. New babies coming into the world (either your own or from family members or friends), marriages and proposals (yes – those also still happened 😉), new houses and other beautiful things that still occurred, even while we were all facing a pandemic.

So whether it’s because you have a million things to celebrate at the end of 2020, or whether it’s because you’re just celebrating that this year is finally over – there’s plenty of reason to open up a nice bottle of bubbly over New Years Eve. Or that fantastic bottle of wine that you’ve kept hanging around for special occasions on Christmas eve. And while I’m all for the ‘I can do anything with diabetes’ sentiment, when it comes to alcohol, things tend to get a bit trickier…

Learning about alcohol and diabetes

Waaaay back when I was still studying and didn’t have diabetes (pfew!) I had a study friend who had Type 1 Diabetes. On the regular, his housemates told stories of how they had to wake him up early in the mornings with bottles of sugary drinks or call his parents to come give him ‘an injection’. Mostly this happened after nights with lots of booze. Only after I got diagnosed myself I realized the ‘injection’ was actually glucagon and that this was usually the result of the alcohol, and a BG dropping super quickly somewhere in the early morning. It made me pretty weary of alcohol and I decided back then that I didn’t want to add another unpredictable factor into this life so I took alcohol out of the equation.

After about 1,5 years with diabetes I realized that I missed a glass of red wine with a nice meal, or a nice cocktail when going out for drinks. So, I started trying out what kind of impact alcohol had on my BG levels, in a safe environment. That sounds weird, but by then I lived by myself in a studio apartment without a housemate or family member nearby to check on me. So, the first time I drank alcohol again, I stayed over at a friend’s house, kept a close eye on my BG’s and started learning what works for me when it comes to alcohol and diabetes.

Fast forward a few years and every time the discussion comes up whether people with diabetes can (or should) drink, my mind explodes with different reactions. From ‘Yes, of course we can, but….’, to ‘make your own choices’, to ‘well, there are things that can happen when alcohol comes into play’. So there’s no right answer to the question. If you mean whether I can put a glass of wine to my lips and swallow, then yes. If you’re asking whether it impacts my BG’s – then also yes. Does it add in another thing to think about? Sure. Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? That’s up to you. If you’re unsure about how to handle your BG’s with alcohol, talk to your HCP team, try it out, test (a lot!) and experience it for yourself. Because the way diabetes works, it might be completely different for me then it is for you.

Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy it too 😉!

About Veerle

My name is Veerle, 30 years young (old, whatever you want ;-)) and since 2013 I’m a part of the special ‘community’ that are the people with Type 1 Diabetes. Besides diabetes being a (necessary) part of my private life, I also chose to work in the diabetes industry. For 4,5 years I’ve worked at JDRF the Netherlands as Coordinator Communications and Projects, and since August 2018, I’ve been working for ViCentra, the company behind Kaleido.