There are a number of things to consider when adding alcohol to your diabetic meal plan. The amount you drink is the key. It is wise to limit alcoholic drinks to 1 a day for women and 2 for men.
1 Alcoholic Drink Equals:
- 12 ounces beer - 1 bottle or can
- 1.5 ounces 80 proof distilled spirits - 1 shot glass
- 1 ounce 100 proof distilled spirits - 2 tablespoons
- 5 ounces wine - 1 moderate sized wine glass
- Always drink alcohol with food because drinking on an empty stomach can make your blood sugar drop too low. Alcohol breakdown in the body takes priority over the breakdown of carb, protein or fat. Absorption starts in the mouth and alcohol continues to be absorbed in the stomach and the small intestine. Eighty to 95% of the alcohol you drink is absorbed into the body. Eating before you drink or at the same time you have a drink slows the rush of alcohol into the body.
Hard alcoholic drinks -- gin, vodka, whiskey, rum -- do not contain carbs so they do not require insulin to be used for energy and they do not cause blood sugar to go up. Mixed drinks and wine do contain carbs and may raise your blood sugar. They need to be counted into your daily carb intake. Here are examples of the calories and carbs in some common drinks.
Carbs (grams) Calories
Bloody Mary 5 150
Champagne 3 84
Chianti wine 4 125
Gin and tonic 16 171
Long Island Iced tea 7 292
Martini 2 206
Pina Colada 32 245
Red wine 4 125
Sangria 8 88
Whiskey Sour 14 162
White wine 4 121
When it comes to beer, light beer is very low in carb (6 grams and 100 calories) and does not need to be counted into your daily carb budget if you stick to one a day - don't overdo. Regular beer has more carb - 13 grams and 150 calories. One 12-ounce bottle should be counted as 1 carb choice in your daily carb budget.
If you drink daily, the calories from alcohol need to be added to your daily calorie intake. If you drink very infrequently, alcohol calories do not need to be counted. Infrequent drinking really does mean occasionally, like once a week.
You Should Know:
Binge drinking is never a good idea, but it is especially bad for a person with diabetes. It causes insulin resistance which puts you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes. Your body's cells can't recognize insulin and glucose (blood sugar) can't get out of the blood and into your cells. Binge drinking also makes it harder to control a healthy blood sugar level. Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women within 2 hours.
To find out more about managing diabetes and the carb and calorie values of over 190 alcohol drinks take a look at one of my latest books The Diabetes Counter, 5th Ed. (Pocket Books, 2014).
© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.
The Diabetes Counter, 5th Ed., 2014
The Fat and Cholesterol Counter, 2014
The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013
The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013
The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012
The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011
The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010
The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008
Your Complete Food Counter App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/your-complete-food-counter/id444558777?mt=8
For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to: www.TheNutritionExperts.com.
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