Drinking too much alcohol can cause numerous health problems, but if your blood glucose is in good control and you drink responsibly, there is no reason you cannot enjoy some alcohol if you are diabetic.
Here are some tips on how to drink to prevent low blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Problems Alcohol can cause
- Alcohol is high in calories, thus it can make you gain weight
- It can cause low blood glucose or hypoglycemia, especially if you take insulin or oral medication that can cause low blood sugar.
- Alcohol can slow your response if you drink and drive, which can be dangerous
- Still, you can drink some alcohol if you do it in a smart way.
Tips to prevent low blood sugar when drinking alcohol
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Wait until your meal is served or munch on some aperitifs.
Avoid mixing different alcoholic beverages that contain a lot of carbohydrates and calories such as regular soda, syrups, liqueurs, and juices.
- Check your blood glucose before drinking. Don’t drink when it is below 70 mg/dl or you have symptoms of hypoglycemia.
- If your blood glucose is below 70 mg/dl, eat some carbohydrates and then decide if you should drink.
Keep in mind that alcohol can cause low blood glucose right after you drink it, especially if you drink too much, don’t eat enough, or you take too much medicine. It can continue to cause low blood glucose 8 to 12 hours after you drink it.
- Remember that alcohol is high in calories and has very little nutrition. If you are trying to cut down in calories, avoid drinking alcohol. If you don’t feel you need to lose weight, then just have a drink and don’t worry too much about the calories.
- Alcohol can also make your blood glucose go too high, especially if you have diabetes. This could be caused by the calories from the carbohydrates in the alcoholic beverages, such as wine or beer, or in a mixer, such as orange juice.
- Sip a drink to make it last longer.
- At a meal, do not quench your thirst with an alcoholic beverage. Order some water instead.
- Make sure you carry identification that states you have diabetes. The signs of hypoglycemia can be mistaken for being drunk, and such a misunderstanding can be very dangerous for you.
- Do not drive for several hours after you drink alcohol. And, it goes without saying, never drink while driving.
As you can see, you can have a meal with your family or friends and enjoy some alcohol if you take some precautions. You may also want to think what your priorities are when it comes to weight loss, and normal levels of blood glucose and lipids (fats) in the blood when deciding whether or not to drink.
The above are guidelines and suggestions to deal with alcohol if you are diabetic. Remember that each person with diabetes is different and that your body may also react differently at different times. Just because one day your system didn’t overreact when drinking alcohol does not mean that it will be that way all the time. Be vigilant with your blood sugar levels.