Finding out that you have type 2 diabetes means finding out that you’ll need to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle to manage your condition, avoid risks and complications, and stay healthy. Many people agonize over whether they’ll still be able to eat their favorite foods or engage in the activities that bring them joy. For a lot of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the question weighing on their minds may be whether they can still go out and enjoy a cocktail with their friends, a beer at a ballgame, or a glass of wine at the end of the day.
The relationship between diabetes and alcohol is a complicated one. But the simple answer is that most people with type 2 diabetes can consume alcohol, but only in moderation and only if they closely monitor the effect that the drinks have on their blood sugar levels.
Moderate Drinking Is OK, But Make Sure You Know What “Moderate” Means
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), moderate drinking should not inherently cause health problems for individuals with type 2 diabetes. But “moderate” may not mean what you think it means; in fact, you may see moderate alcohol consumption as minimal alcohol consumption.
The ADA defines moderate drinking for type 2 diabetes as two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A “drink” means just five ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or one and a half ounces of an 80-proof spirit.
Alcohol’s Effect on Blood Sugar Levels
A daily drink or two may improve blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity, but that does not mean you should start drinking alcohol if you don’t do so now. If you consume more than the moderate amounts described above, you could elevate both your blood sugar and A1C levels. Additionally, because of alcohol’s effect on the body and its interactions with diabetes medications, particularly insulin and sulfonylureas, alcohol consumption can lead to unpredictable blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is perhaps the most significant potential risk from drinking, especially if you knock back that drink on an empty stomach.
Of course, excessive alcohol consumption can have the same negative consequences for people with type 2 diabetes as it does for people without the condition. But those consequences, such as an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, or nerve damage, can pose an even greater threat to the health of those with diabetes.
Monitoring Glucose Levels When Drinking Alcohol
As noted, drinking alcohol can have unpredictable and varying effects on blood sugar levels. Carb and calorie consumption, as well as medications, can all interact to create unexpected highs and lows. That is why regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is an essential complement to a healthy lifestyle in managing diabetes, especially if you drink regularly.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a tested, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device that helps those with diabetes stay in control of their condition and their lives without the need for inconvenient and burdensome finger-pricking multiple times a day.
If you have recently received a diagnosis of diabetes, ask your doctor about CGM and contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.