Plan ahead and you can enjoy parties despite having type 2 diabetes.

Plan ahead and you can enjoy parties despite having type 2 diabetes.(ISTOCKPHOTO)

You may have diabetes, but you can still have a good time at parties and work functions.

The key is to know how food and drink can affect your blood sugar, and plan accordingly. An occasional sugary dessert won't necessarily blow your diet. As with anything, moderation is the key.

Weddings, parties, and other social events

When Sue McFadden, 49, goes to a party or restaurant, she skips certain carbohydrate-laden foods, such as bread, potatoes, or pasta, so that she can indulge in others.

"I won't eat them so I can have the dessert I like. My favorite is tiramisu. I haven't found a diabetic version of that yet!" says McFadden, an administrative assistant who lives in Drexel Hill, Penn., and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when she was 41.

Blake Holden, 48, is OK with the occasional splurge at a special event and adjusts his insulin to cover sweets or other types of food he doesn't normally eat.

"I make the decision that I'm going to go, I'm going to eat it, I'm going to take more insulin. And on that day, my blood sugar will be wacky. It'll be high, it'll come down," says Holden, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I do it very rarely. How many weddings or big parties do I go to? Not many."

He also has found that alcohol can affect his blood sugar in strange ways. "Certain alcohols seem like they stop my blood sugar from rising," he says.

Alcoholic beverages can be a potential hazard for people with diabetes: Should you or shouldn't you? You'll need to know if you have health problems that may worsen with alcohol intake, and how it can affect your blood sugar.

Having diabetes can complicate matters at the office too. Temptation is just as much a problem at work functions as at home.

"About a month after I was diagnosed, we decided at work to all go out to lunch after a staff meeting," says Sue Clark-Sorger of Sandia Park, N.M. "I'm thinking fries and a hamburger and I thought, 'I don't think I can do this.'" She considered skipping the event, but she knew she had to get used to going out for meals with her new diet. "So I went and managed to get grilled chicken and a salad and it worked out just fine, but going out is hard," she says.

When cake is passed around to celebrate someone's birthday or a new baby, you may feel pressured to have a slice if you don't want one—or treated to a lecture if you do.

"You don't tell a lot of people because the day you get a candy bar out of the vending machine, you're sure to run into all the work people who do know," says Kim Doty, 46, of Colorado Springs.

It's OK if you don't want to tell everyone at work that you have diabetes, says Constance Brown-Riggs, a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator in Massapequa, N.Y., and author of Eating Soulfully and Healthfully With Diabetes.

"You don't have to say, 'Well, you know, I've got diabetes. I've had it for 25 years.' It's just 'No, thank you. I don't care for that right now,'" she says.