Drinking with D: Diabetes and Alcohol

alcoholThis weekend I was at a friends birthday, and as I poured my 3rd Vodka I rememembered (rather vaguely) something I read somewhere… Diabetics should not drink more than two standard drinks a day. We’ll, as some of you may have guessed by now, I didn’t put my glass down, and kept drinking a few more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for responsible drinking, and firmly believe that everyone should stay in control. On the other hand, I’m also human, and I know that some people occasionally go over the line a bit.

As I recovered from the effects of a big night out, and kept a close eye on what my blood sugar was doing, I decided to look again for what the advise on alcohol and diabetes was. To my surprise and disapointment while information on the subject is widely available, it also seem to be mostly impractical, specially once you have decided to breach the “only two drink” rule.

alcohol-422270While doing my research, I finally found hope… in the page of the New South Wales division of Diabetes Australia. They say “Research indicates that in general, the level of alcohol consumption associated with the least risk for people with diabetes is the same as that for the general population”. In English, this basically means that the two drink rule also applies to non diabetics. From my point of view this gives me comfort in the fact that if a lot of people without diabetes drinks beyond the official recommendation, then it should be possible for people with D to drink a bit more than just a couple of beers if they choose to do so.

The best resource I’ve found so far, is the Drinking and Going Out factsheet created by Reality Check, a network of young adults with Type 1 diabetes. The guidance in this document is very pragmatic and much more actionable than most of the other resources I’ve found on the net. It starts with the basic implications of alcohol and diabetes:

  • Alcohol impairs the liver’s ability to produce glucose in the event of a severe hypo
  • Early signs of hypos can look the same as drunkenness (for you and people around you).

It subsequently goes into some recommendations to handle alcohol, which I’ve found very useful. Personally, I’ve found that the main thing for me is to keep the balance of alcohol and carbs right. Of course this is not as easy as it sounds, and I’ve found that frequent monitoring is a must in this cases.

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3 Responses to Drinking with D: Diabetes and Alcohol

  1. JOSEPH says:

    WHAT HAVE YOU TOLD ME – NOT MUCH.
    I DRINK THREE MARTINIS AND / OR THREE MANHATTANS A DAY
    MY SUGAR RANGES FROM 157 TO 238.
    IF I CONTINUE THIS, WHAT AM I IN FOR ? ?
    I CANNOT GET FROM ANY SOURCE A COMPLETE STATEMENT.
    IT SEEMS THAT EVERYONE THAT WRITES ABOUT ALOCHOL
    CIRCUMVENTS THE ANSWER

    • Henry says:

      Hi Joseph,

      I’m afraid I’m not the best person to answer your specific question. Diabetes is very different for each of us and it’s very hard to tell what your particular circumstances are.

      I agree with you. There seem to be issues that no one seem to be addressing and that is what my post tries to highlight. Unfortunately, I’m not a health professional myself so I can’t help you directly.

      Have you considered talking to a diabetes educator?

      Hope you find answers to your questions soon,

      Henry.-

  2. Paul says:

    Joseph,
    From personal experience I would tell you to increase your insulin if you are running those numbers everyday. They are higher than they should be and lots of bad things like heart bypass surgery awaits…
    Also, eat some protien with those drinks (peanuts) It kind of maintains things to prevent dramtic low blood sugar when your sleeping.

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