Sometimes it can be hard for people living with diabetes to know what to do and how to adjust lifestyle around drinking alcohol.
Paying attention to sugar levels in social settings can feel tedious and annoying, but it is definitely something we need to pay attention to. If we ignore sugar levels while drinking alcohol, some awful hyper’s and hypo’s can occur.
Keep reading for my top tips on alcohol consumption and diabetes control. These are easy adjustments you can make to ensure your sugar levels don’t go too crazy!
1. Choose beverages lower in sugar
- In general, I would always recommend choosing alcoholic drinks that are lower in sugar for general health reasons.
- As a diabetic myself, I find drinking beverages lower in sugar helps to prevent big glucose spikes, followed by a rollercoaster of sugar level readings after.
- So, always try and choose sugar-free mixers, and sweeten with fresh lime or lemon juice, or sugar-free syrups.
2. Start with drinks high in sugar, then swap to drinks with less sugar
- This is a trick I always use when I am having a few drinks!
- I start with having a drink higher in sugar, firstly because I love a pint! And secondly, because this can help to prevent a hypo in the hours after consuming alcohol.
- I then recommend swapping to beverages lower in sugar to prevent a hyper, and to keep your sugar levels as balanced as possible.
- Furthermore, if you have a CGM or Flash glucose monitor, make use of it! Have a look at your sugar level trends when you drink certain alcoholic drinks to see how you can prepare, and what is best for you to drink.
3. Do not over-compensate your insulin dose
- This is the most important tip to pay attention to because alcohol can cause hypo’s hours after consumption.
- This is because your body needs to use sugar in order to get rid of alcohol from the body. If too much insulin is present, a big drop in glucose can occur. Having a hypo whilst under the influence can be particularly dangerous, so it is vital to prepare before and after drinking.
- I would also recommend having a snack or meal before drinking. If you tend to have hypo’s after drinking, consider reducing your insulin dose with your meal, or eat slightly more carbohydrates.
- If you’re having a hyper while drinking alcohol, drink lots of water and inject a small correction dose so sugar levels come down slowly.
4. Always have a snack after drinking alcohol
- As well as having food before drinking, always make sure you have a snack after consuming alcohol. This should be a balanced snack with a source of carbohydrate, protein and fat.
- I know this can be tricky when you have had a few drinks, so I recommend preparing a snack before you go out.
- Some examples of snacks I love to have after drinking are peanut butter on toast, a chicken salad sandwich or Weetabix with peanut butter.
- Finally, put a hypo snack next to the bed, so if you drop overnight, you can have this snack immediately to get your sugars back in range.
5. Never neglect your health for the sake of others
- It is absolutely fine to let go sometimes and have a treat, but please don’t fall into the routine of not checking your sugar levels due to embarrassment.
- It is so easy for people living with diabetes to feel out of place in social settings, but you are not!
- Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, and never make you feel uncomfortable with looking after yourself.
- If you are anxious about checking your levels, or injecting in front of other people, I highly recommend speaking to somebody about it. I have been through stages like this, and sharing your anxiety with others can really help. You could bring this up in a checkup appointment with your team, or with another person who is living with diabetes themselves.
Thank you for reading my top tips on alcohol consumption and diabetes control! I hope you take something away and try out some of my tips! Let me know what you found useful, and make sure you are subscribed for more content!