NCAAD Alcohol Awareness Month is held every April since 1987 to increase public awareness and understanding about alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. When you have diabetes, drinking alcohol can cause your blood sugar to soar or plummet. April is the perfect time to consider alcohol drinking habits and how they impact people with diabetes.
- The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCAAD) founded Alcohol Awareness Month to raise awareness about problems related to alcohol consumption. People with diabetes should limit their alcohol intake or possibly avoid drinking altogether. There are simple strategies to cut back or quit drinking alcohol. Keep track of your drinking and set limits. Avoid situations where heavy drinking occurs. Only keep a limited supply of alcohol in your home. Ask for help from your doctor, family and friends.
- Alcohol is processed in your body much like fat, which means it provides almost as many empty calories. Drinking alcohol can raise blood sugar levels especially if served with a mixer like fruit juice or soda. This can also cause weight gain. Drink alcohol when your diabetes and blood sugar level are in control. If have you have high triglyceride levels or high blood pressure, check with your doctor about whether drinking alcohol is safe for you. If you are allowed to have an alcoholic beverage, check your blood pressure with an Omron blood pressure monitor after drinking to give you beneficial information.
- Moderate amounts of alcohol served with a mixer can cause your blood sugar to rise but alcohol can also decrease your blood sugar levels. It may even cause it to plummet to dangerously low levels. Do not drink more than one alcoholic drink in a day for women or two alcoholic drinks a day for men under 65. One alcoholic drink equals a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer or 1 ½ ounces of liquor. Always use a glucose monitor to test your blood sugar level after drinking alcohol. Extreme highs or lows should be reported to your doctor. Pay attention to symptoms.
- Sweet wine and beer may contain additional carbohydrates that can raise your blood sugar. Drinking alcohol can increase blood pressure and triglyceride levels. You may experience nausea and flushing as well as slurred speech and increased heart rate. Drinking alcohol can also stimulate your appetite which may cause you to overeat and affect your blood sugar. Try drinking water with a squeeze of lemon or lime rather than alcoholic beverages. Sip water from a fancy glass so you don’t feel deprived at parties or gatherings. Steer clear of overeating and bring healthy snacks to nibble on.
- When you have an occasional alcoholic beverage, only drink it with healthy foods. Sip the drink slowly to avoid blood sugar spikes. Mix liquor with diet soft drinks or water rather than having a “shot.” Make wine spritzers. Avoid cordials, sweet wines or sugar-laden mixed drinks that could cause your blood sugar level to rise.
- Take advantage of Alcohol Awareness Month to learn how to quit drinking completely. Consuming too much alcohol increases the risk of health-related problems such as liver disease and certain types of cancer as well as violence, depression and injuries. It can lead to sleep disorders and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Talk to your diabetes health care team about the benefits of only drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all. Get educated about the dangers of alcohol abuse. If you have trouble giving up excessive alcohol consumption, reach out to your doctor for advice and help.
- Learn to have healthier habits rather than drinking alcohol. Alcohol can influence your sleep in a negative way. Instead of drinking at parties, get involved in a conversation or dance. Sip sparkling water and eat healthy foods. Exercise regularly to boost endorphins and get a natural “high.”
Alcohol Awareness Month is a great time to consider your drinking habits and how they may have a negative impact on your diabetes. Watch your alcohol intake carefully and discuss it with your doctor. Learn how to limit alcohol or avoid it altogether for a healthier and happier future.