Diabetes and Alcohol

Is it safe to drink alcohol?

There is no reason why you shouldn’t drink alcohol when you have diabetes, unless you have been advised not to because of other medical conditions or treatment.

How much alcohol can I drink?

The standard guidelines for you are the same as the general population when it comes to alcohol consumption: women can drink two units a day and men can drink three units daily.

Why might I get a hypoglycemic attack if I drink a lot?

When you drink alcohol, our blood glucose level initially rises because alcohol contains sugar. As you continue to drink, your liver’s ability to produce glucose is reduced and your blood glucose may start to fall. If you take insulin or insulin-stimulating pills you may have a hypoglycemic attack. Reduce this risk by having a meal or snacks containing carbohydrate before or while you are drinking.

Can I adjust my pills or insulin injection if I know that I’m going out for a drink?

If you know you will be drinking alcohol and food may be in short supply, you may want to take a smaller dose of your pills or insulin on that day to reduce the risk of a hypoglycemic attack. Carrying a snack with you as well as your usual remedies might be helpful, too.

I’m trying to lose weight. Should I avoid alcohol?

Alcohol is high in calories, so cutting down can help you lose weight or prevent weight gain. It also helps to drink low-calorie mixers with your alcoholic drinks: conventional mixers, such as tonics, colas, lemonade, and fruit juices are high in sugar.

I’m going to an office Christmas party and everyone will be drinking heavily. How can I stay in control?

Having a meal beforehand or eating snacks while you are drinking will lessen the effect of the alcohol. Substituting glasses of water for some alcoholic drinks can help and will still give you a drink in your hand. It will also help if someone else knows what to do if you have a hypoglycemic attack. People who don’t know you might think you are intoxicated when in fact you are hypoglycemic – and they won’t necessarily realize that you need help quickly.

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