Provided it is done in moderation, most people can enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends asking yourself the three following questions when deciding if alcohol consumption is a good choice for you.
If you answered no to any question, speak to your diabetes educator or health care provider before drinking alcohol. If you answered yes to all of these questions, it is okay for you to drink alcohol in moderation. When you do, keep the following points in mind.
If you use insulin or certain medications, such as a sulfonylurea, your diabetes educator or health care provider may advise against drinking alcohol. This combination can cause low blood glucose that may not appear right away. However, each person is unique, so ask your doctor for guidelines.
Remember, it can be hard to tell the difference between someone who is drunk and someone suffering from a low blood glucose reaction. Your friends and family may think you are tipsy when you are actually experiencing low blood glucose. The following steps will help to minimize your chances of having low blood glucose.
Wear a diabetes identification bracelet. Be sure that at least one person in the room knows your signs and symptoms of low blood glucose and how to treat it. Be aware that glucagon, a treatment for low blood glucose, will not work while alcohol is in the body. This means you must make sure someone knows to call an ambulance if you pass out.
All alcoholic beverages are not created equal! Some choices are wiser than others. Choosing a beverage on taste alone is not the best approach when you need to control blood glucose levels. Take a broader look at the drink’s calorie and carbohydrate content. The table below can be used as a guide to make the best choices. You can clip out and carry this guide in your purse or wallet.
With forethought and care, some people with diabetes can enjoy an alcoholic drink. Talk with your doctor or diabetes care team about whether this is appropriate for you.
|Regular beer||341 mL/ 12 oz.||147||12|
|Light beer||341 mL/ 12 oz.||99||5|
|Non-alcoholic beer||355 mL/ 12 oz.||50 to 80||11 to 17|
|Low carb beer||341 mL/ 12 oz.||92||3|
|Distilled spirits (gin, rum, vodka)||45 mL/ 1.5 oz.||98||0|
|Regular wine||150 mL/ 5 oz.||123 to 127||1 to 4|
|Dessert wine||150 mL/ 5 oz.||232||23|
|Non-alcoholic wine||150 mL/ 5 oz.||9||1|
|Regular wine cooler||355 mL/ 12 oz.||178 to 258||21 to 38|
|Light wine cooler||330 mL/ 12 oz.||100||1|
|Sugar free pop||250 mL/ 8 oz.||0||0|
|Regular pop||250 mL/ 8 oz.||88 to 99||23 to 25|
|Club soda||250 mL/ 8 oz||0||0|
|Tonic water||250 mL/ 8 oz||88||23|
|Orange juice||250 mL/ 8 oz||118||27|
|Tomato juice||250 mL/ 8 oz||44||11|
|Tomato and clam juice||250 mL/ 8 oz||123||28|
|Adapted from CDA Alcohol + Diabetes (Canadian Nutrient File, 2005)
Reference: CDA Clinical Practice Guidelines 2013 and CDA Alcohol + Diabetes.