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Drinking Smart with Diabetes

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

At nearly any social gathering you attend, you can almost bet there will be alcohol available. A few drinks with friends can be a fun way to let loose and connect with others, but alcohol can cause some serious problems when consumed irresponsibly. It can effect your blood pressure, blood sugar and weight - all big risks for people with diabetes. This blog isn't about not drinking at all, but rather drinking smart!

You can begin to feel the effects of alcohol as early as a minute after it is consumed. Women tend to absorb alcohol more rapidly than men, and it takes women’s bodies longer to process it. Unfair! We know, but it's just the facts. Most alcohol is absorbed in the small intestine, then into the bloodstream where it quickly moves to the liver. On average, your liver can process one alcoholic drink per hour, although the specific rate will depend on your body size and food intake.

What about alcohol and diabetes?

Well, it can get complicated. Alcohol can cause blood glucose levels to drop and masks the symptoms of these episodes, so the person with diabetes is unaware of the danger. People with diabetes must eat adequate carbohydrates and check blood glucose levels every hour when drinking to avoid a blood sugar crash.

Blood pressure is raised by about 1.4 mm Hg for every alcoholic drink you consume. This effect is reversible within a few weeks of stopping alcohol intake. Long-term alcohol exposure increases blood pressure significantly, elevating the risk of heart failure, irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, and stroke.

Calories in alcohol are empty calories - they have no nutritional value but contribute to weight gain.

- 100 calories per 1.5 oz. shot of distilled liquor

- 120 calories per 5 oz. glass of wine

- 150 calories per 12 oz. can of beer

So how much is too much?

General guidelines for alcohol consumption are:

<1 drink/day for women

<2 drinks/day for men

The gender variation in the guidelines is based on general differences in body size and fat distribution between men and women. And if you plan to drink more, monitor your blood glucose levels closely.

Lastly, are there any good alternatives?

Sure there are! If you're headed to your next social event, there are plenty of ways to drink smarter and still enjoy yourself. One of the easiest ways is to have a mocktail - all the looks, mixology, and flavors of a traditional cocktail with less calories and no alcohol. Mocktails are great ways to enjoy a night out with friends and we have an entire blog of creative mixes for you to check out! Click here for the recipes!

Alcohol can be a tricky topic when it comes to diabetes. Need more help? Schedule a call with our educator, Kent, to discuss other ways to stay on the right track!

Diabetes Supplies and Support for Successful Diabetes Management


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P: 888.416.0008 | F: 888.416.0009


220 W. Tennessee St, Suite 101 | Florence, AL, 35630

P: 256.203.5058 | F: 888.416.0009

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