Carb Counting #4: Alcohol and Blood Glucose

Feb 11, 2018

Alcohol affects everyone differently, so you should always monitor your blood glucose when drinking to learn how alcohol affects you. There are a few things to consider beyond just the carbohydrate content of your favorite drink. 

Safety first!
Alcohol can cause flushing of the skin, nausea, increased heart rate, and slurred speech in anyone. These symptoms may be confused with or mask the symptoms of low blood sugar, so it’s important to make those around you aware of your diabetes when you are drinking. Always wear a medical alert piece of jewelry that says you have diabetes.

Compromises Liver’s Response
While moderate amounts of alcoholic drinks may cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level - sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially for people with type 1 diabetes. This is because alcohol interferes with the liver’s efforts to release glucose. For example, if your blood sugar is trending low, in a normal situation your liver would kick in to help bring it up. However, after ingesting excess alcohol your liver might not have the ability to help increase your blood glucose.

Carbohydrate
Alcohol itself does not contain carbohydrate, but mixers can contain large amounts. Beer and sweet wine contain carbohydrate and may raise blood sugar. It’s smart to avoid alcohol with added sugar (sweet wines or liqueurs) and sweet mixers (regular soda, fruit juice, or margarita mix).

Other
Remember, there is no specific diet for diabetes, but an overall healthy eating pattern is important for everyone, and eating well is important to manage your blood glucose. Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can cause you to overeat, and on top of that may affect your judgment or willpower, causing you to make poor food choices. With calories already in most alcoholic drinks, frequent drinking makes it more difficult for people who want keep their blood sugar under control and/or lose excess weight.

Craving for more? Check out the complete Carbohydrate Counting series:
Carb Counting #1: Food & Blood Glucose
Carb Counting #2: Nutrition Labels
Carb Counting #3: Other Influences
Carb Counting #4: Alcohol

The material provided is for educational and training purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. You are encouraged to seek advice from a competent medical professional regarding the applicability of any recommendation with regard to your symptoms or condition. It is important that you do not reduce, change or discontinue any treatment without first consulting your healthcare provider.

From time to time, we may pass along: suggestions, tips, or information about other Tandem Insulin Pump user experiences or approaches to the management of diabetes. However, please note individual symptoms, situations, circumstances and results may vary. Please consult your physician or qualified health care provider regarding your condition and appropriate medical treatment. Please read the Important Safety Information linked below before using a Tandem Diabetes Care product.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION