This Is All You Need To Know If You're A Diabetic Who Enjoys A Drink Diabetes changes your life in many ways, so much so that a simple night out becomes a huge ordeal. You crave food and alcohol, but you have to hold yourself back because you know that your body just cannot metabolise the sugar. To make things easier, we asked nutritionist Tara Murali, Diabetacare, to give us some tips on how to make peace between diabetes and alcohol. The following list presents the calories, carbohydrates and fats found in standard servings of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. “Diabetes is a cruel disease,” says Murali, “but it can be managed if you are careful. Here is what you need to keep in mind before a night out.” 1. Too much alcohol is dangerous for diabetics. Alcohol, in small quantities, is considered “heart healthy”, but it is still high in sugar. Diabetics do experience alcohol cravings. The cravings occur because the human body associates alcohol with readily available carbohydrates that can be processed to produce sugar. Unfortunately, diabetes damages the sugar metabolism pathways, which means that the sugar from the alcohol lingers in the blood and the body’s cells starve. The known and proven risks of drinking alcohol include: •Weight gain and obesity • Increased triglyceride levels • Increased blood pressure • Liver and kidney damage An occasional indulgence might not be a problem for diabetics adept at managing their condition, but it can be disastrous for those with poor blood sugar control. If you are going to be drinking, it’s a good idea to check your blood sugar level before you leave and after you return. 2. You have to limit your intake to a maximum of two drinks per day. With your doctor's approval, you can drink up to two drinks per day. A "drink" is defined as 350 ml of beer (preferably light beer), 120 ml of wine, 60 ml of dry sherry or 45 ml of a distilled beverage, such as whiskey, brandy, vodka or gin. Try to sip your drink slowly and make it last longer. 3. It’s important that you know how much sugar there is in each drink. If are going to be drinking socially, it’s important that you understand and control what you are drinking. The carbohydrate content of alcoholic drinks varies. Try to avoid drinks that contain a lot of sugar as they could aggravate your blood sugar levels. Avoid sweet mixers and opt for sugar-free products. Consult the chart given above and make a note of the sugar and fat content in your favourite drinks, so that you are aware of what you’re drinking. 4. A friend can help you manage insulin reactions. The symptoms of low blood glucose and intoxication are similar. If you take insulin, make it a point not to drink on an empty stomach. The symptoms may make your friends think you are just a little "tipsy." Always make sure that someone in the group knows about your diabetes and educate them on how to treat an insulin reaction. You should also know that some oral hypoglycaemic agents react with alcohol, causing dizziness and nausea. Discuss this with your doctor when he/she is prescribing your medication. 5. You need to eat the right foods while drinking. Fill your stomach with starch-free, low-fat foods before you start drinking. Alcohol actually puts you at a higher risk of having low blood glucose, so consuming the alcohol with a carb-rich meal that contains whole wheat rotis, cottage cheese-based snacks, mushrooms, etc. will balance out your blood sugar and reduce your alcohol cravings as well. 6. Drinking can aggravate the problem if you are overweight. If you are overweight, consuming more than the recommended amount of alcoholic beverages per day is not advised as the excess calories will get stored as fat. If you have high blood triglycerides (fats), you should think twice about consuming alcohol, because it may increase the problem. 7. You need to be cautious. Always ask your doctor about how alcohol will affect you specifically and try to limit your alcohol intake. No matter what you eat or drink, moderation is the mantra you will have to live by.