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Diabetes and Alcohol: Caution When Mixing
How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Sugar?
So Can I Drink Alcohol?
What About Alcohol and Weight Gain?
Guidelines When Drinking Alcohol
Limit the amount you drink. Women should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage a day. Men should drink no more than two drinks a day. One drink is equal to a:
- 12-ounce beer,
- 5-ounce glass of wine
- 1-½-ounce of distilled spirits, like vodka, whiskey, or gin.
- Do not drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol should be consumed with food, either at a meal or with a snack. Some healthy snack options are pretzels, popcorn, and raw vegetables.
- If you drink alcohol several times a week, make sure your doctor knows this before prescribing diabetes medication
Other Helpful Tips
- Drink only when and if your blood glucose is under control.
Test your blood sugar levels:
- Before drinking
- Before going to bed
- Sip your drink slowly.
- Have a no-calorie beverage with you to quench your thirst.
- Try wine spritzers—wine with club soda. Wine spritzers have less alcohol content than straight wine.
- Avoid drinks with a lot of sugar. These are usually mixed drinks that have high-carbohydrate mixers. These drinks may cause high blood glucose levels. Try using calorie-free drink mixers like diet soda, club soda, diet tonic water, or water.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet. If you drink, people with you will be aware of your condition. They will be able to respond properly if you need help.
- Carry glucose tablets or another sugar source. Glucagon shots may not work in cases of hypoglycemia that are due to alcohol.
- Do not mix alcohol and exercise. This will increase your chances of having low blood sugar.
- Do not drive for several hours after you drink alcohol.
American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Alcohol. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/alcohol.html. Updated December 19, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2014.
Checking your blood glucuse. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/checking-your-blood-glucose.html. Updated December 10, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2014.
Diabetes and alcohol. Joslin Diabetes Center website. Available at: http://www.joslin.org/info/Diabetes%5Fand%5FAlcohol.html. Accessed March 3, 2014.
Dietary considerations for patients with type 2 diabetes. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 22, 2014. Accessed March 3, 2014.
Fitting alcohol into your meal plan. Joslin Diabetes Center website. Available at: http://www.joslin.org/info/Fitting%5FAlcohol%5FInto%5FYour%5FMeal%5FPlan.html. Accessed March 3, 2014.
Shai I, Wainstein J, Harman-Boehm I, et al. Glycemic effects of moderate alcohol intake among patients with type 2 diabetes: a multicenter, randomized, clinical intervention trial. Diabetes Care. 2007 Dec; 30(12): 3011-3016. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/12/3011.full. Accessed March 3, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 03/03/2014