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Diabetes & Alcohol

Sections:

Alcohol | Alcohol & Hypoglycaemia | 'Diet' beers | Low Alcohol drinks | Strong beers | Mixers

Alcohol

Moderate amounts of alcohol can be included in the diabetic diet without upsetting good control.  If your diabetes is controlled by insulin or tablets you must take extra care because alcohol lowers blood sugar levels and may cause a “hypo”. Sensible use of alcohol means no more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day.

Diabetics are advised not to drink more than 3 units of alcohol per day, otherwise control can be affected.

Men should not have more than 21 units of alcohol per week.

Women should not have more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

 

1 unit =

˝ pint of ordinary beer, lager or cider

1 pub measure of spirits

1 glass or wine

1 small glass of sherry

1 measure of vermouth or aperitif

What is a unit of alcohol?


Alcohol and Hypoglycaemia

Never drink on an empty stomach.

It is important for diabetics taking insulin or tablets to take extra carbohydrate (starch) with or after drinking alcohol to prevent a “hypo” later. ALWAYS have a small bed-time snack if you have had a drink in the evening, eg wholemeal bread, cereals or biscuits are recommended.  The risk of hypoglycaemia can last many hours after taking alcohol. Continue to be aware of “hypo” symptoms the following day.

“Diabetic” or “Diet” Beers and Lagers

These drinks are not recommended. They have a higher alcohol content then ordinary beer or lager. They are often referred to as “Pils” lagers.

 

Low Alcohol Drinks

Low alcohol beer, lager, cider and wine (some examples are shown on the right) usually have a fairly high sugar content. It is advisable to limit intake to 1-2 drinks a day.

 

Beer/Lager

Kaliber
Barbican
John Smith's LA
McEwan's LA
Talisman LA
Tennent's LA

Cider

Strongbow LA

Wine

Eisberg
Jung's
Masson Light
Schloer Nouveau
Wundarbar
Lambrusco light

Examples of low alcohol drinks

 

Strong Beers and Lagers

These are not advisable to take as they have a high alcohol content, containing 3-4 units of alcohol per pint. “Hypos” are more likely to occur after their consumption - care must be taken.

 

Mixers

Avoid using ordinary mixers. If they are combined with alcohol they can trigger a “hypo”. Use sugar-free “low calorie” or “diet” mixers, eg

  • Schweppes Slimline
  • Hunt’s low calorie diet
  • One-Cal/Diet ranges etc

If you require further help/advice your Doctor can refer you to a Dietitian.