Tip of the Day
Alcohol and Diabetes
Not only is November American Diabetes Month, but the holiday season is just around the corner, making this an excellent time to review the relationship between alcohol and diabetes. If you enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages, doing so in moderation is always recommended, but for those living with diabetes, knowing your limit is crucial.
It is essential to discuss drinking alcohol with your health-care team before you drink at all. If your blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels are under control and if your doctor indicates that alcoholic beverages in moderation are okay, a registered dietitian nutritionist or a certified diabetes educator can help you incorporate them into your meal plan, but always keep these guidelines in mind:
- Test your blood glucose level before you decide if you should have a drink. If you do drink, check your blood glucose level again before bedtime and eat something if it is low.
- As always, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one serving a day for women and two for men, the same recommendations for people without diabetes. A serving of alcohol is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1 ½ ounces of distilled spirits. Talk with your doctor and registered dietitian nutritionist about your individual limits.
- Always eat when you have an alcoholic drink to reduce the chance for hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose.
- Consider low-alcohol wine, beer or distilled spirits. They have fewer calories and less alcohol and carbohydrates than regular beer or sweet wine.
- Always wear a necklace or bracelet that identifies you as having diabetes since others might confuse the symptoms of hypoglycemia — such as disorientation and dizziness — with drinking too much and you might not get the right help, right away.
To find out if your health insurance plan covers nutrition services for prediabetes and diabetes, along with access to qualified practitioners such as registered dietitian nutritionists, call the member services number located on the back of your insurance card.
For more information on managing diabetes, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area and visit our Diabetes section.
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Reviewed October 2013