How To Be T1D Smart(ies) Around the Holidays


My son is the one with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in our household, and he unfortunately inherited my sweet tooth as well … so we struggle with the healthy eating, sugar and carb thing a lot, but more so this time of year.

Why oh why does there need to be a birthday celebration at school every week? And a treat day for no reason at all? And holiday parties with nothing but sticky goo? And multiple holiday traditions and dinners (and of course desserts!) lurking around every corner? Some days I think it’s the world’s way of laughing at us.

The reality is whether you are an adult living with T1D or parenting a kid with T1D, having a plan for the holidays, balance and tools at your disposal is not optional. So, here are four ideas to get you started.

  1. Set boundaries – Decide how much is enough or too much and stick to the plan. (In fact, you may just decide that one day of sugar craziness is in order and that’s OK too. Designating that day will help you avoid the constant guilt.) This will also help you get ahead of the increased carb intake.
  2. Consider healthier and more T1D friendly treats – Like frozen raspberries or sugar free jello with whipped cream.
  3. Gather and ration – Get all those smarties (these are our go to low supplies right now) and other good straight sugar/glucose candies at Halloween and keep them for a cheap supply to treat lows. (Just avoid the chocolate ones and others with more than just glucose.)
  4. Create a new tradition – Ask family and friends to substitute giving candy and sweets for little gifts like coloring books, card games, or stickers. Those gifts last longer and they also help to disassociate sweets with celebration. Also, is there an experience or a charity that you can get involved in or do instead of the traditional trick or treating, pumpkin pie eating and sugar overload?

And don’t go crazy trying to explain to your relatives why you can’t partake in the dessert one minute, but go running for the juice and candy shortly after to treat a low; or rolling your eyes at the sugar free dessert that has a million carbs in it. Yes, they think you’re crazy, but that’s ok. You’re managing! And enjoying life at the same time.

Above all, find a plan that works for you or for your child and don’t beat yourself up it it’s different than someone else. This is an individual disease. What other great ideas do you have to combat the holidays that you can share with others?

Read Halloween — Tips for a Not-So-Scary Holiday and Stacey’s story Dear Stranger. 

WRITTEN BY Stacey Obrecht , POSTED 10/24/16, UPDATED 10/18/22

Stacey Obrecht is a management consultant from Wyoming. And the proud mom of Evan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 5 in November 2015. She is passionate about reaching parents of newly diagnosed children, and giving back to the wonderful organizations and people that help move research and care for those with T1D forward each and every day. Find Stacey on Twitter @s_obrecht and on Facebook: Stacey Moss Obrecht.