What about Diabetes and Alcohol?

Posted by Marianne McAndrew, RN, MSN, CDE

Having diabetes does not mean that you have to give up your favorite foods or beverages altogether. This includes alcohol. The key is moderation.

It is important to be aware of how certain foods and beverages affect your blood sugar, and alcohol is definitely one of those. Monitoring your blood glucose levels can help you gauge its effects.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the following recommendations should be considered when consuming alcohol:

  • Women should have no more than one alcoholic beverage a day. (One drink is equal to a 12 oz. beer, a 5 oz. glass of wine, or 1 oz. distilled spirits.)
  • Men should have no more than two drinks a day.
  • Do not consume alcohol when your blood sugar is low or on an empty stomach.
  • Be cautious about consuming alcohol when taking a sulfonylurea drug or insulin. Alcohol, along with these drugs, can cause hypoglycemia.
  • Do not use alcohol as a substitute for food and do not count alcohol as a carbohydrate choice.
  • Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia immediately after drinking and for 24 hours afterward. Make sure you check your blood sugar frequently.
  • Drink only when your blood sugar is under control.

To read more of the ADA's recommendations, click here.

People with diabetes should always avoid sugary beverages. Other beverages you might want to consider include water, unsweetened beverages, coffee, and diet soda.

Visit CCS Medical's Living Healthy library to learn more about alcohol and diabetes.

The information provided within this site is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with your physician or healthcare provider.

Photo of Marianne McAndrew, RN, MSN, CDE

Marianne McAndrew, RN, MSN, CDE

Marianne McAndrew is a Registered Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and CCS Medical Insulin Pump Specialist.