8 Summer Party Tips for Diabetics

Between the backyard barbecues, pool parties, and alfresco cocktail soirées, it can seem like summer is just one continuous and tempting opportunity to feast. But if you don't want to see your blood sugar go sky-high and your weight creep gradually upwards when you get together with friends, resolve now to party with care. You can savor all that the season has to offer, food-wise, by taking a few extra precautions including: 

  1. Look before digging in. Take a stroll and view all the offerings on a buffet table before selecting what you'll eat. "There may be food in multiple places at a party," says Rebecca Dority, MS, RD, LD, CDE, an instructor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. "You may grab something and start eating, and then see something you like even better." Before you know it, you've consumed more than you should have.
  2. Calculate snacks as part of your meal plan, says Suzy Weems, RD, Ph.D., of Baylor University in Texas. "You will have a lot more choices this way," she promises. "You won't be as tempted to overeat."
  3. Drink a glass of water before you get to the party. It will help you feel full, she says.
  4. At the buffet table, select Melba toast or whole wheat crackers rather than high-fat butter-flavored crackers, Weems says.
  5. Instead of a sugary cocktail, put a slice of lemon or lime into club soda or seltzer water, and other guests will assume you are having a drink. If you do want to have an alcoholic drink, try making a mixed drink with a sugar-free beverage like Crystal Light, Dority says. Or limit yourself to a five-ounce glass of wine or a light beer.
  6. If you drink alcohol, make sure you eat before you imbibe. "Someone with diabetes should always have something in their stomach to prevent the blood sugar from dropping too low," Dority says. "It's also a good rule of thumb to test your blood sugar more regularly during the summer anyway." This is because you could be confusing feelings of hunger with the feelings of heat exhaustion. "When you get very hot, it can be difficult for you to know the difference," Dority says.
  7. As for what to eat for dessert, Weems recommends that you stay away from desserts that are heavy on fat and sugar, such as cheesecake and lemon bars. The best dessert ever? Fruit. "Summer is great because it's easy to work fresh fruit into your meal," Weems says. If you host a summer dinner party, try grilling peaches, plums, or apricots and serving with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream for a special treat. Or mound cut-up fresh fruit into a hollowed-out watermelon for a festive dessert.
  8. Finally, always put the party snacks you intend to consume on a plate, and eat from your plate, rather than popping food into your mouth whenever you feel like it. "This way, you can see what you're eating rather than just eating mindlessly," Dority says. It's a lot easier to lay off the pigs in blankets and coconut shrimp when you see that you've somehow consumed an entire plateful, rather than if you'd just popped them into your mouth without ever counting!