Understanding the Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes Type 2 - Holiday Edition

We get it—kicking back with a cold beer or a classy glass of red wine during the holidays can be a relaxing treat. Most of us know that alcohol...

We get it—kicking back with a cold beer or a classy glass of red wine during the holidays can be a relaxing treat. Most of us know that alcohol should always be enjoyed in moderation. 

But what about those with type 2 diabetes? Can alcohol and diabetes ever go together safely? Or should it always be avoided?

In this article, we’ll be discussing the effects of alcohol on diabetes. Read on to discover what risks come with drinking alcohol, how much alcohol is safe, and whether different drinks have different effects.

Diabetes and Alcohol Consumption

In general, alcohol and diabetes aren’t a great combination. Alcohol tends to contain plenty of calories, plus it can have a drastic effect on your blood sugar levels. Let’s talk about what can happen when you drink alcohol as a diabetic. 

The Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes Type 2

Here’s what happens to the body when you drink alcohol as a type 2 diabetic.

  • Moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to rise. Excessive amounts can cause it to fall. Essentially, alcohol has a serious effect on blood sugar, meaning that it is much harder to control and maintain healthy glucose levels while drinking
  • Beer and sweet wines are packed with carbohydrates. People with type 2 diabetes need to watch the amount of carbs they consume as high carb counts can cause blood sugar levels to rise. For this reason, beer and diabetes and sweet wines and diabetes aren’t a great mix.
  • Alcohol can increase your appetite. If you overeat regularly, you may gain excessive amounts of weight, which can cause complications for diabetics.
  • Alcohol can reduce the effects of your diabetes medication.

Alcohol Guidelines for People with Diabetes

Here are some of the ways you can enjoy a few drinks without having to worry too much about the side effects as a diabetic. Of course, every case is different. Stick to your doctor’s advice about alcohol consumption (and everything else) if it differs from ours:

  • Men shouldn’t drink more than two drinks a day, and women shouldn’t drink more than one.
  • Alcohol should be consumed alongside a meal or snack.
  • Try to consume your drink slowly—you’ll enjoy it more that way anyway!
  • Sugary cocktails and cordials can cause your blood sugar to spike.
  • Always mix hard liquors and spirits with water or other low-calorie mixers.
  • Stay hydrated while you drink. Water will help to keep you feeling healthy. 
  • Avoid ordering unhealthy food with your drink—while it may be tempting to “treat yourself” with your drink, keeping the food healthy will minimize the impact of your evening out.
  • Only drink when your blood sugar levels are already stable. Drinking when your blood sugar is already high can make the side effects even worse.

Good Drinks For People With Diabetes

Just because alcohol isn’t a great thing to drink when you have type 2 diabetes, you should be able to enjoy a few drinks in moderation from time to time—especially if you try some of these diabetes-friendly beverages. 

Light Beer

A light or low-carb beer typically has about 3-6 grams of carbohydrates, making it a much safer option than regular beers.

Wine

Both red and white wines are linked to heart health and insulin sensitivity—so, in moderation, they may actually be good for you. However, avoid over drinking as too much alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia. 

Liquor With a Mixer

Drinking a glass of liquor with a healthy mixer can have an incredibly low amount of carbs. It’s a great alternative to a sugary cocktail or sweet wine.

Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary is made of vodka and tomato juice. If you use low-sodium juice, add a celery stick—this should contain around 15g of carbohydrates.

Sugar-Free Cocktails

Whip up your own sugar-free cocktails using sugar substitutes like stevia, and low calorie mixers. Throw in some berries or sliced citrus fruits to make it extra healthy.

Find your balance!

After all, it is the holiday season. You deserve to indulge. Just be smart about your choices! 

CuraLife is here to help you get through the hardest parts of having type 2 diabetes. Our supportive community is always there to give tips, offer support, and to have a chat about the day-to-day struggles that come with type 2 diabetes. Remember, you are not alone!