As we are both in our mid 20’s, one thing that we both have experience with as diabetics (a lot of experience!) is socialising, clubbing and basically letting our hair down at the weekend. And most importantly, diabetes has never stopped us! We both believe that being able to enjoy ourselves, whether this involves a couple of drinks or not, is incredibly important, regardless of a diabetes diagnosis. We are both big fans of clubbing, festivals (involving camping), concerts, party holidays and even travelling (blog to follow soon specifically on diabetes and travelling).
Now we have been in contact with quite a lot of newly diagnosed diabetics, who have received a diagnosis in their late teens/early 20’s, whereby there are always the same questions that often pop up:
- Am I still going to be able to go out at the weekend?
- Am I still going to be able to drink?
- Am I still going to be able to go clubbing?
- Am I still going to be able to go to festivals
…..the list is endless, but there is only one answer….YES YOU CAN! Diabetes is not the party pooper that many people think it is. The only difference is that we need to be just that little more careful in terms of keeping an eye on our BG levels and ensure we are regularly checking, as there are numerous factors that can make our BG levels rise or fall:
- Drinking alcohol: Can make BG levels drop or rise depending on what is consumed (Wine and cider are full of sugar). This is important as from our own experience, feeling ‘tipsy’ or ‘merry’ can also disguise the feelings of a hypo.
- Dancing: Can make BG levels drop due to the extra energy used, however, dancing can also make our BG levels rise due to the release of adrenaline/cortisol etc.
- Remembering to check: Sometimes the night can be so much fun that we may tend to forget to check our BG level.
- Bar tenders mistakes: Unfortunately, bar staff are incredibly unreliable when it comes providing diet drinks on request….. (we could vent about this for hours!)
So, from personal experience, we have clumped together a couple of tips for when you are out clubbing/partying/socialising and most importantly, LETTING YOUR HAIR DOWN:
- CHECK, CHECK, CHECK: Ensure that you check your BG levels as much as you can when out. We know this may seem like a nuisance, but 30 seconds checking our BG levels is a lot less effort than treating a hypo/hyper. If you have a freestyle libre or CGM, even better!
- Eat before you drink: Always ensure that you have eaten slow release/low GI carbs before drinking, which will help to avoid any nasty drops in BG levels when drinking.
- Choose wisely: When at the bar, aim for those drinks that are low in added sugars, i.e. diet mixers or soda water with white spirits such as vodka or gin. Unfortunately, wine, beer and cider are high in sugar, however, this does not mean these have to be avoided all together. Just keep a closer eye on BG levels. Remember…. Lower calorie alcoholic beverages will also reduce the likelihood of weight gain.
- Ask twice: As previously mentioned, bar staff can be very unreliable when it comes to giving us diet drinks we have previously requested. So…. when they pass you your drink, double check with them if it is diet. Also….TRUST YOUR TASTE BUDS. If you know that the drink is not diet (and we are all pretty good at identifying this as diabetics), request another drink immediately and explain you are diabetic. We have been in so many situations where bar staff are certain it diet, when in fact it isn’t!
- Keep hypo treatments handy: Always ensure that you have hypo treatments available in your bag or pocket, whether this includes sweets, glucose tablets or cereal bars etc.
- Don’t be embarrassed: Many people highlight how it can be embarrassing injecting or checking BG levels in public. However, do not let this stop you…. You have NOTHING to be embarrassed about.
- ENJOY YOURSELF: Unfortunately, for many of us, having diabetes constantly on our minds can clash with letting our hair down and enjoying ourselves, due to constantly thinking about what we are drinking, eating and what our BG levels are etc. However, even though this is important, it is also even more important not to worry! As long as you have successfully prepared for the night in advance and are avoiding sugary drinks, then you deserve to let go!
Overall, remember that diabetes is not a death sentence for our social lives, whatever you enjoy doing at the weekend. I mean, we have been in the middle of a crowd of 10,000 people, checking our BG levels, whilst jumping up and down to the music…. It is possible!