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Is there room for alcohol in your diet if you have diabetes?

Is there room for alcohol in your diet if you have diabetes?

Is there room for alcohol in your diet if you have diabetes?

Yes, unless your GP has asked you to avoid it for a specific medical reason.

But bear a couple of points in mind.

Firstly, alcohol lowers blood glucose levels owing to its effect on the liver.

Secondly, it is high in kilojoules – almost as high as fat – but with few nutrients.

Here are some useful tips in managing alcohol consumption: Pair alcohol with carbohydrate containing food. This acts like a sponge, helping to absorb some of the alcohol and in turn minimising its effect on blood glucose. Likewise, sip your drink slowly to slow absorption. Or add a sugar-free mixer to make it go further.

Don’t drink when your blood glucose is low. By taking consistent daily blood glucose readings, you will be in a much better position to make an intelligent decision as to whether to drink or not. If your blood glucose is already low, avoid causing more problems and don’t drink alcohol.

Observe the safe drinking limit. The safe alcohol drinking guidelines for people with diabetes are the same as for the entire adult population.

The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends not more than four standard alcoholic drinks a day for men and not more than two for women.

It is also recommended that you have two alcohol-free days per week. But note that these are the maximum recommended amounts, and drinking less than this is, of course, preferable.

One standard unit of alcohol is equal to:

  • 300 ml beer
  • 30 ml sherry, aperitif, liqueur or spirit (such as vodka or gin)
  • 100 ml wine

Don’t drink every day. Try to space your drinking throughout the week and to have two or three alcohol-free days each week.

Alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia (a ‘hypo’, or low blood glucose)

This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.