Embracing Holidays With Type One Diabetes


You don’t need to be afraid of the Holidays!

Three weeks after our daughter was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes, our church had a Holiday party. Church gatherings are not something we normally miss, and we wanted to demonstrate that Diabetes did not control us, so we put on our brave faces and walked straight into the chaos of a Holiday gathering.

At the time our endocrinologist had our daughter on a very strict carb-restricted diet as we figured out how to heal her body and adjust to her new regimen. She also didn’t have any of the technology that she does today (ex: Dexcom G6, and Tandem insulin pump). We were on old-school needles and syringes and finger pokes. We were 21 days in, and the sound of the word “carbohydrates” sent all three of us to tears.

Upon examining the buffet line, it became apparent that there was not one single thing that would fit within our daughter’s allotted 3o carbs for dinner. We had brought some backup food, but when faced with carrot sticks and string cheese compared to a smorgasbord of sweets and carb-loaded goodies what do you think she would want to choose?

The evening was cut short when in frustration we all began to cry. I will never forget my daughter saying, “Mommy, I am not trying to be naughty. I just want a cupcake”. At that, I scooped up my itty bitty three-year-old and we went home to the safety of beef jerky and string cheese and far away from all the Holiday carbs.

There has to be a better way to preserve Holidays!

That night I knew there had to be a better way. We couldn’t live like this forever. It was NOT realistic. She is a child FIRST and Diabetes had to come SECOND. So we set off to make some ground rules when it comes to Holidays so that the memories can be preserved and yet we can keep her out of ketoacidosis.

Here are some of our “Rules” that have aided in maintaining sanity, and safety, and allowed us to preserve family memories and traditions in the midst of our journey with Type One Diabetes.


Do not be afraid to celebrate Halloween! There are a few “tricks” you can have up your sleeve to make sure your little Type One can still enjoy all the “treats”.

  • Be involved in planning the class party and food assignments. I always sign up to bring a “savory” snack and a drink (sugar-free lemonade). That way I know there will be a safe thing for her to drink that is still fun and the same as everyone else. And all the other Moms will be grateful when you pull out the cheese sticks, believe me.
  • If you send in a little “favor” for classmates, shop Oriental Trading or Amazon and order things in bulk. We are big fans of candy-free favors and handouts and I love having these supplies in bulk. We love sticky hands, bouncy balls, bubbles, etc.
  • Trick or Treating is OK! It is really more about the memory of the evening, so don’t be afraid of it! We just have a rule that we don’t eat any candy until we get home, and then we pick 3 pieces to eat that night. We even do this if we do a few different Halloween events that week (for example church party, community Trunk or Treat, and then traditional Trick or Treating).
  • At the end of all the Halloween festivities, we gather all the candy and then our daughter is able to trade in all her goodies for a 10$ toy of her choice at Walmart. She really looks forward to this, and then the next morning all the candy is gone. The fun of Halloween is preserved, some candy is enjoyed, and it doesn’t tempt us all the next month as it sits on top of our fridge.


Holidays with Diabetes: Corpus Christi Mom's Blog

  • Know carb counts ahead of time. This is important so that when our daughter dishes up her delicious and exciting plate, you aren’t standing there drawing attention to her plate by deciding on what to dose for. You already know and now Thanksgiving can be preserved for the memory of Turkey and Pie.
  • Holidays are a wonderful time to encourage our littles to expand their taste buds. So try not to say “no” to certain things. Embrace the Holiday for what it is. One special day a year. They may discover a new food they love! That being said, sometimes they try something way high carb, and it doesn’t taste good to them, and now they know!
  • Bring Sugar-Free beverages. When people are thinking ahead about the menu, they often forget about drinks being the most dangerous component! So, to avoid any awkwardness just provide sugar-free drinks for anyone to share! We love Sprite Zero with Cranberry during the Holiday season. We also love Sugar Free lemonade.
  • We have a general party rule which is this: try one treat there and bring one home for later. This has allowed us to avoid many painful discussions, and still have fun! (We use this rule for any parties! Like class parties, birthday parties, etc.)

Christmas and New Years

Holidays with Diabetes: Corpus Christi Mom's Blog

  • Do not be afraid to make cookies! Make all the cookies! Just find people to share them with! This way you can still make the memory, without all the temptations of having cookies in your house all month long! We enjoy some cookies hot out of the oven, and then we immediately plate them and deliver them. It is so much fun! When our daughter was first diagnosed, I thought we would have to get rid of this tradition, and now I realize we can still do it and enjoy sharing the Christmas Spirit.
  • This may sound terrible, but we still do gingerbread houses and buy the kits. We do this because the frosting is not nearly as tempting, and the candy is kinda boring. So it’s fun to decorate with, but not near as tempting to eat! We also supplement with non-candy decor like dried fruit, and pretzels.
  • Keep sugar-free hot cocoa in the diabetes bag all season long. You never know when someone will offer hot cocoa, although SF still has carbs, you know the exact carb count, and it is a lot safer.
  • Relax on Christmas day. Still dose obviously! But allow yourself and your little Type One to be a kid! However, keep those Sugar Free drinks on hand and high protein snacks to counterbalance the delicious Christmas treats and traditions.

Valentines Day:

  • We love blueberry pancakes on Valentine’s day. A great way to still have a fun and festive breakfast is to use Kodiak Cakes! They are protein-packed and very filling. This way, you know you aren’t setting up your Type One with a high carbo-loaded breakfast.
  • We also do candy-free Valentines every year. Again, we love Oriental Trading or Amazon. But Walmart and Target also have fun favors. We love doing candy free because they are more fun for our daughter to put together, and then I know at least 1 out of the 22 classmates will be bringing a non-candy item.
  • Again for the class party, be involved and bring a sugar-free drink and savory snack to complement the other goodies.


Holidays with Diabetes: Corpus Christi Mom's Blog

  • As far as Easter gatherings are concerned, apply all the above advice!
  • But one trick we have used is our Easter Bunny fills our Eggs with non-treat items. We love tiny animals, coloring things, bouncy balls, bubbles, necklaces, rings, bracelets, fingernail polishes, stickers, etc.
  • And here in South Texas, we are obsessed with Cascarones (confetti-filled eggs), which are SO fun, and you guessed it, SUGAR-FREE!

If I can help you embrace the Holidays with one piece of advice, it would be this:

Embrace the memories with your child first. And balance diabetes second. With a few ground rules in place ahead of time Holiday gatherings can be stress-free and fun again for everyone, I promise!


  1. Awesome blog, I’m a mom to 2 T1 Divas also in Kingsville, there’s a few of us here in town and we also have Gulf Coast page with more Mods n Dods. Feel free to find me on FB Oni Marichalar ☺️

  2. Emily,

    I am a T1D mom in the Coastal Bend. I have started a Facebook group for area T1D families. I would love to invite you to our group. We are trying to build a community of support in the area. If interested, please join us at Texas Coastal Bend Type 1 Diabetes Community.

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