Navigating the consumption of alcohol when your blood glucose levels are out of whack is a grueling task. Generally, alcohol contains high quantities of sugars / carbohydrates, which, if you are managing insulin resistance or diabetes, is bad news. It is good practice to check with your healthcare provider what quantities of alcohol (if any) are safe for you to consume, based on the degree to which you have your condition under control.
One of the side effects of alcohol is a stimulated appetite, meaning you are unlikely to just drink without nibbling on something on the side. That plus the impairment of your judgment and willpower, and you are most likely to consume high carbohydrate or sugary snacks, with the cumulative effect being losing control of your blood glucose levels.
More seriously, alcohol can increase your blood pressure and interfere with the effects of oral or intravenous diabetic medicines and insulin. It effects the accuracy of your measure blood glucose levels as well, and impairs your livers ability to process sugars effectively from your bloodstream.
While moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to rise, excessive amounts of alcohol can actually decrease your blood glucose levels – sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to nausea, increased heart rate, and slurred speech, all of which can either confuse or mask the symptoms of low blood sugar.
General guidelines for drinking alcohol include:
- Not drinking more than two portions of alcohol in a 24 hour period if you are a man, or one portion if you are a woman. (one portion = 150ml of wine, 44ml “shot” of liquor or 340ml beer).
- Drink slowly and only with food.
- Avoid “sugary” mixed drinks like cocktails, sweet wines, or cordials.
- Mix liquor with water not soda, or diet soft drinks.