Diabetes and Alcohol: How to Drink Safely

Diabetes Alcohol

Alcohol and Diabetes: How To Drink Safely and Healthily

Drinking alcohol while managing diabetes can be tricky. But with the right precautions, it can be done safely. In this article, we’ll discuss diabetes and alcohol, including how to limit your drinking, how it might affect your blood glucose levels, and how to stay safe.

Which Types of Alcohol Can I Drink?

Alcoholic beverages are broken down into two main categories: beer and cider, and spirits, wine, and fortified drinks. Beer and cider typically contain the highest amount of carbohydrates and may not be recommended for people with diabetes.

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Spirits, wine, and fortified drinks are usually the better option for people with diabetes. Low carb beer and other light alcoholic beverages may also be suitable.

How Much Alcohol Can I Drink?

The current advice is that men should not exceed 21 units of alcohol per week and women should not exceed 14 units per week. A single unit of alcohol (e.g. one pint of beer or a single measure of spirits) is equal to 10ml (1cl) of pure alcohol.

It’s best to spread the units evenly throughout the week, and to avoid drinking heavily on any one day. Aim to have at least two alcohol-free days every week.

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How Might Drinking Affect My Blood Glucose Levels?

It’s important to consider how drinking might affect your diabetes. Alcoholic drinks can raise blood glucose levels, and make it difficult to control your diabetes.

Alcohol and diabetes type 1 can be particularly problematic, as it can lead to hypos (low blood glucose levels) if combined with certain diabetes medications.

Alcohol can also cause blood glucose levels to go too high, which increases the risk of long-term diabetes-related complications.

How Can I Stay Safe?

If you are taking diabetes medication, you should always check with your doctor before drinking in case it could cause a dangerous reaction.

It’s important to check your blood glucose levels regularly while drinking, to avoid your levels becoming too low or too high.

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Ensure you drink plenty of water and have snacks and meals while drinking, to help reduce the effect of the alcohol on your blood glucose levels. Avoid sugary mixers and always check food labels for added sugars.

If you drink more than a moderate amount, take extra precautions as you may not be able to recognise the signs of hypos or hyperglycemia.


If you have diabetes, it is important to understand how alcohol might affect your condition and blood glucose levels. Be sure to check with your doctor before drinking and always follow the recommended guidelines for safe alcohol consumption. By doing so, you can enjoy a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

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