Can diabetics drink alcohol?
A little, yes. As long as your blood sugar is in good control, you know how the alcohol will affect you, and you don’t have an additional condition that is affected by alcohol (like high blood pressure). This is the recommendation from the American Diabetes Association.
Overall, the recommendations for people with Type 2 diabetes are the same as the general health guidelines for alcohol consumption:
- No more than two drinks a day for men, no more than one drink a day for women.
- These drinks should meet the standard serving size of 350ml beer, 150ml wine or 45ml hard liquor like whisky, scotch or brandy.
- It’s also important to realise that mixers are often where hidden sugars and carbohydrates lie: always ask for sugar-free mixers or water.
Another essential to keep in mind is that if alcohol is consumed with food, the effect on blood sugar will be less dramatic, so never drink on an empty stomach! Alcohol can have a very rapid blood sugar lowering effect, which is why diabetics drinking alcohol have to be very careful.
And finally, remember that the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can very closely resemble those of being drunk – so be sure that whoever you’re with knows you’re diabetic.
Here’s what one of our community members from Diabetic South Africans had to say.
Helpful tips for diabetics drinking alcohol
Do you drink alcohol? Do you know how it affects your blood sugar? Here’s some fantastic advice from community member Ane on how to deal with drinking and diabetes.
I’m a second year student in Stellenbosch, which is not very helpful with all the beautiful wineries etc here for a type 1. I do, however, prefer to either drink nothing or drink something I know will not have an impact on my sugars too much. The problem with alcohol is it makes your sugar drop rapidly when too much alcohol is in the blood without sufficient carbs to keep levels stable. This is a confusing concept since 275ml of beer = 5 slices of white bread = carb overload!
Six essential tips
- Do not drink cocktails. Nor shots. Ever. Try to avoid cloudy drinks as well.
- I would recommend not drinking and drinking Coke Light or water (much much cheaper) or if you have to drink and want to, have some whiskey or champagne. (Whiskey is your best option, and champagne is regarded the best type of drink for ladies with Type 1 diabetes.)
- Always always have a friend with you that will not get drunk. In the (hopefully) unlikely event of a hypo, people will think you are drunk since it looks 100% the same in a club at 2am…
- Keep carbs with you at all times, and never drink on a empty stomach.
- Set alarms in the morning to make sure that you don’t get a hypo. Rather run your blood sugar a little higher than too low.
- Wear something to say that you have Type 1 diabetes.
Remember, we are all curious at some point in time about alcohol (and a lot of other things that have an influence on our levels) We try things, make mistakes, learn and educate others. Everyone is different, this is my opinion since I have experience.. Hope it helps!