Hosting a T1D Guest this Holiday?


Woohoo! Have you found yourself saying, “I’m hosting a holiday party and my partner, sibling, in-law, cousin, niece, nephew, grandparent, grown child, aunt, uncle, friend is coming who has Type 1 diabetes. What can I do to be an awesome host?”

We all know you’re well intended with your questions, advice or interest on the matter, but no guest wants to be the party-pooper, stick-in-the-mud, or hot-topic of conversation just because they have Type 1. There are ways to accommodate your guest that allow them to best care for themselves without feeling like a burden.

Here are ways to make things easier and a little more awesome:

1 – Don’t expect all holiday cheer

No day is a “day off.” T1D is a full time 24/7 job, and a holiday is just like any other day for chronic illness. There is no way to make a day great just because it is a national holiday.

2 – Be flexible

T1D impacts everything from eating to exercise, and tight plans can make things tense. Blood sugar fluctuates, and your guest’s plans might need to too.

3 – Advocate for self-care

Let your guest take care of themselves however they need to. If your guest needs to take a fast walk or sit down and drink some juice, let them. Your personal feelings on the matter, don’t matter. How you expected the day to go, or your desire to partake in a different activity at a different pace is less important than your guest’s health. Give them the freedom to make the choices that are best for them. You are welcome to ask if you can join them in that activity, but don’t suggest they do it differently. They know what is best for them.

4 – Don’t provide unsolicited advice

“That has too much sugar” or “Can you eat that?” can actually feel offensive. Your guest knows when and what they can and should eat much better than you do, and questioning them implies they don’t.

5 – Don’t suggest food choices

Offering specific food to your guest or questioning their food choices can create weird tension. If you are serving a meal or dessert, let everyone make their own plate and don’t question why your guest did or didn’t choose to eat something. Refraining from questioning or offering lets your guest make judgement-free choices about their bodies and their health.

6 – Don’t peak at blood sugars

Unless your guest shares, their blood sugar is not your information even if they are close family.

7 – Refrain from judgmental language

If your guest brings up their sugar, avoid referring to it as “good” or “bad.” Blood sugar levels aren’t inherently bad or good, and labeling them that way can make your guest feel like they are doing a bad job caring for themselves. Blood sugars are low and high.

8 – Skip the sugar-free dishes

Often times, sugar-free dishes mean well, but they tend to have the same amount of carbs and taste less awesome. There are plenty of foods inherently low in carbs that everyone can enjoy that won’t alienate your guest into obligation with the “sugar-free” label. Green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, meats and cheeses are easy low-carb foods to have as part of any party. They are healthy for everyone, and it will let your guest enjoy treats no matter their blood sugar.

The main take away? Treat your guest just like any other guest, with compassion and no expectations. Don’t talk Type 1 unless they bring it up, and let that person take the reins if they need to step away for some self-care. It will make the gathering so much easier for everyone!

Read The Friends & Family Guide to Type 1 Diabetes.

WRITTEN BY Rosemary Stewart, POSTED 12/18/17, UPDATED 12/06/20

Rosemary Stewart is an actress and singer born and raised in Nashville, TN. She spends most of her days performing, hanging out with babies, or assisting musicians. She is married to Brett Ryan Stewart, musician and owner of The Sound Shelter, who has Type 1 diabetes. With a passion for advocacy, she enjoys working to ensure understanding surrounding Type 1 diabetes and the challenges that come with it.