If you have diabetes, drinking alcohol may cause your blood sugar to either rise or fall. Plus, alcohol has a lot of calories.
If you drink, do it occasionally and only when your diabetes and blood sugar level are well-controlled. If you are following a calorie-controlled meal plan, one drink of alcohol should be counted as two fat exchanges.
If you have diabetes, you already know the drill. What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat can send your blood sugar skyrocketing -- or make it plummet. For better or worse, "diet and diabetes" go together like salt and pepper.
So if you need a little motivation to eat better - and who doesn't? - consider this: with diabetes, you're at high risk of the nerve pain and damage called diabetic neuropathy. What can start as a little tingling or numbness in your feet can turn into major problems...
It is a good idea to check with your doctor to see if drinking alcohol is safe for you.
Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes
Here are some other ways that alcohol can affect diabetes:
While moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level -- sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially for people with type 1 diabetes.
Beer and sweet wine contain carbohydrates and may raise blood sugar.
Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can cause you to overeat and may affect your blood sugar control.
Alcoholic drinks often have a lot of calories, making it more difficult to lose excess weight.
Alcohol may also affect your judgment or willpower, causing you to make poor food choices.
Alcohol can interfere with the positive effects of oral diabetes medicines or insulin.
People with diabetes who drink should follow these alcohol consumption guidelines:
Do not drink more than two drinks of alcohol in a one-day period if you are a man, or one drink if you are a woman. (Example: one alcoholic drink = 5-ounce glass of wine, 1 1/2-ounce "shot" of liquor or 12-ounce beer).
Drink alcohol only with food.
Avoid "sugary" mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials.
Mix liquor with water, club soda, or diet soft drinks.
Always wear a medical alert piece of jewelry that says you have diabetes.