Living with diabetes is one thing…but living successfully with diabetes is the goal!
Success means balancing food and activity. The end goal is to achieve weight loss and to stabilize blood sugars by eating well and staying active.
For those with type 2 diabetes, weight management is especially important. Being overweight is an independent risk factor for the disease – one that compounds any genetic link.
So, can people with diabetes drink alcohol safely? That depends.
The American Diabetes Association recommends you answer three important questions before you pick up a drink:
Drinking alcohol can increase your risk for hypoglycemia, which is also known as low blood sugar. Certain oral medications for type 2 diabetes work to lower blood glucose by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin.
At the same time, alcohol makes your liver work overtime to metabolize the alcohol. So, hypoglycemia can result because the liver is working to clear the alcohol out of your system instead of working to get the glucose from carbohydrate into your bloodstream.
People sometimes appear to be drunk when suffering from low blood sugar. Slurred speech, dizziness, sleepiness and disorientation may be mistaken for intoxication, but could be symptomatic of hypoglycemia, which could be a life-threatening condition. Because of this risk, it’s a good idea to always wear a diabetes medical identification.
Insulin, exercise and alcohol all lower blood sugar. That’s why self-monitoring is so important. Stay on track by journaling your blood sugar readings and create a record that you can refer back to and share with your healthcare provider.
The American Diabetes Association defines moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women and two for men. One alcoholic drink is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, such as vodka, whiskey or gin.
The ADA serves up these tips for drinking safely with diabetes:
If weight loss is your goal, you’ll find it tougher going if you choose to add alcohol to your daily menu. The best advice is to not sacrifice good nutrition for alcohol – and to monitor your blood sugars frequently.
Alcohol packs 7 calories per gram, and is quickly metabolized and stored as fat. Best intentions are often forgotten when drinking alcohol—and for people with diabetes, there are complications that are more easily avoided by avoiding alcohol.
You want your willower up front and center when you’re trying to make positive changes for health and weight loss. So, ask yourself this: is a drink really worth it?
American Diabetes Association: Alcohol. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/alcohol.html
Susan Burke March is Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, who as eDiet's Chief Nutritionist promotes the dietary health and well being of consumers worldwide.