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Diabetes & Alcohol

Avoid low blood sugar by following these guidelines

Alcohol is high in calories and has few nutrients. If you drink and this is approved by your doctor, please drink wisely and moderately.

Moderate drinking is 1 drink per day for women (1 ounce liquor, 4 ounces wine or 12 ounces beer) and 2 drinks per day for men.

Alcohol is metabolized similar to fat in the liver. Your liver supplies you with glucose for energy when you are not eating. When you drink alcohol and have not eaten any food, your body concentrates on breaking down the alcohol and forgets to send out glucose into the bloodstream. This can cause you to have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Try to eat some food, like cheese and crackers) if you indulge moderately in alcohol. With mixed drinks, use diet soda, diet tonic, club soda, or vegetable juice (low-sodium).

Keep in mind that red wine contains high levels of resveratrol – a heart healthy antioxidant – and may help to increase HDL (health cholesterol) levels. If you choose beer, try light beer. The calories and carbohydrate amounts are significantly different from regular beer. Regular beer has 145 calories per serving and 13 grams of carbohydrates. Light beer has 99 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. All distilled spirits (liquor) per ounce has about 100 calories and zero carbohydrates. Wine (per 4 ounce glass) has about 75 calories and 1-2 grams of carbohydrates.

Marci Sloane, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, is a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with a degree in Nutrition and Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University. Marci is the author of The Diet Game: Playing for Life! More about Marci Sloane

The goal of Destination Diabetes® is to be a useful and credible resource for the more than 20 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S. and their families. Destination Diabetes® provides information on a wide range of diabetes health and wellness topics. Articles are written or reviewed by diabetes advisors who have experience in diabetes education.