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Alcohol and Diabetes

Beer Belly Blues and Diabetes

Although an occasional drink may not hurt your blood sugar control, it can harm your eating plan if your goal is weight loss. Two light beers equal about 200 extra calories. Alcohol is called empty calories because it does not give you any nutrients.

If you are on a low-calorie meal plan, think twice about adding alcohol. In general, alcohol counts as fat servings (1 drink equals 2 fat exchanges).

Wise Drink Choices for Diabetics

Some drinks are better choices for people with diabetes. Select drinks that are lower in alcohol and sugar. If you use mixers in your drinks, choose ones that are sugar free, such as diet soft drinks, diet tonic, club soda, seltzer, or water. This will help keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.

Light beer and dry wines are good choices. They have less alcohol and carbohydrates and fewer calories.

To make drinks last longer, try a "spritzer." Mix wine with sparkling water, club soda, or diet soda. Try a "virgin" Bloody Mary made without alcohol.

When Alcohol Is a Poor Choice for Diabetics

Some people with diabetes should not drink alcohol. Alcohol can make some diabetic problems worse.

If you have nerve damage from diabetes in your arms or legs, drinking can make it worse. Alcohol is toxic to nerves. Drinking can increase the pain, burning, tingling, numbness, and other symptoms found with nerve damage. Some studies show that even regular light drinking (less than two drinks per week) can bring on nerve damage.

Heavy drinking (3 or more drinks per day) may make diabetic eye disease worse. If you have high blood pressure, you can lower it if you stop drinking alcohol.

Many people with diabetes have high levels of the fat called triglyceride in their blood. If you do, you should not drink alcohol. Alcohol affects how the liver clears fat from the blood. Alcohol also spurs the liver on to make more triglycerides. Even light drinking (two 4-ounce glasses of wine a week) can raise triglyceride levels.