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Can Diabetics Drink Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol during holiday social settings is a common activity that many of us enjoy. One misconception is that people with diabetes can not have alcohol under any circumstances; however, this is not true. T1D's can drink alcohol, but you must be careful about what type and how much you consume. The key is to control your blood sugar levels as much as possible to remain safe. 

Everyone's body is different, so every person with diabetes should treat their condition differently!

Tips for Drinking Safely with Type 1 Diabetes

Abstaining from drinking alcohol as a person with diabetes is the safest option - and, frankly, the safest option for a person without diabetes. However, if you're going to drink, there are a few things to keep in mind

Alcohol affects how your body produces insulin. It’s important to remember that drinking alcohol with diabetes can lead to complications and side effects such as high or low blood sugar levels. 

Sugary drinks can obviously spike your blood sugar levels, so it's critical that you watch what you're drinking, how much you're drinking, and how often you drink. Lighter drinks may work best. 

As you know, combining alcohol and diabetic medications like sulfonylureas and insulin can cause low blood sugar. Alcohol increases the risk of hypoglycemia and other consequences of diabetes, including eye issues, vision loss, heart disease, and strokes.

In short, type 1 diabetes and alcohol don't always mix. There can be several consequences of alcohol use for diabetics. That's why you should ask yourself these three questions before drinking alcohol:

  • Do I have my blood sugar levels under control?

  • Am I aware of how alcohol can affect my blood sugar?

  • Has my doctor said I could consume alcohol?

The important thing is to listen to your body and your doctor. There are also several precautions you can take if you know you're going to be enjoying a drink with dinner or during a night out with friends. 

Considerations for Type 1 Diabetics and Alcohol Consumption

If you’re consuming alcohol, make sure that you’re: 

  • Eating food beforehand, so you're not drinking on an empty stomach.

  • Hydrating and continuing to sip water while you're drinking alcohol.

  • Testing your blood glucose levels often. Alcohol can affect your blood glucose levels for up to 12 hours, according to Hopkins Medicine, so checking it before you go to sleep is a good idea!

  • Potentially adjusting insulin dosing.

  • Not drinking too much. The ADA recommends no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

Types of Alcohol T1Ds Can Drink 

It is probably no surprise that alcohol with a low sugar or carbohydrate content is the best for people with diabetes! These include light beers, such as Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Bud Lite, red and white wines (especially dry ones such as Prosecco, Champagne, and Cava, which just so happen to be our founder’s favorite!) distilled spirits, and low-carb cocktails such as martinis and vodka sodas. 

On the other hand, traditional cocktails, dessert wines, and cream liqueurs frequently have higher sugar content, which may cause a blood sugar surge. Although cocktails and sweet drinks are tasty, avoiding overly sweet juices, mixers, and syrups is a good idea!

No matter what alcoholic beverage you select, remember that managing your blood sugar is affected by more than simply sugar. Your risk of hypoglycemia may be increased by taking certain diabetes drugs with alcohol. Consult your doctor about if and how you can consume alcohol safely if you take medication.

T1Ds Can Enjoy Alcohol In Moderation

You don't have to say no to a drink as a person with type 1 diabetes. The key is to be safe and to always begin with a healthy, in-range blood glucose level. Sip your alcohol and avoid excess drinking — no need to get shwasty-face!

To stay up to date on helpful tips for managing type one diabetes, check out our type 1 diabetes articles and resources, and stock up on glucose gel packs so you can beat the low, no matter where you go!

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