Before I start this blog……
All of the below is just MY experience of alcohol and diabetes. I am not encouraging anybody to start drinking based upon what they read here. It is just how I deal with MY diabetes when drinking, and I am sure many people with have opposing views.
Please read ➡ my disclaimer before reading the rest of this post.
Please check the official guidance on the ➡ diabetes UK website
Alcohol and Me
One of the main things I recall from my initial diagnosis was being told;
” With Type 1 diabetes you really should avoid alcohol”
Now that came as a real sucker punch. I have always enjoyed a drink and now the Dr has said I should avoid it!! Like the whole injecting yourself every time you eat and pricking your fingers 10 times a day wasn’t enough.
I went almost 9 months when diagnosed without touching a drop of alcohol, and to be fair, I didn’t really miss it. I was finding that on a night out I was sick to the back teeth of Diet Coke though!!
Annoyingly it turns out that the GP who told me this was being very over cautious and we can in fact drink, just like everybody else. I am not saying go out and down 10 pints of lager, that’s not a good idea for anybody! Like everyting with type 1, we can do it, just in moderation.
My change in mindset came about after I had been to a couple of meetups with other people with type 1. The London meetups are a great way of meeting new people and making new friends. For me they gave me the confidence to have a couple of drinks and get a little part of my old life back, albeit a much moderated intake nowdays!
Please do join our Facebook group if you would like to get involved in the London meetups
How drink effects me
- Lagers will cause my blood sugars to go high.
- Cider is like rocket fuel to me, blood sugars will be in the high teens after just 1 drink.
- Red wine will not effect my blood sugars for the first 2 drinks, then it will cause them to drop.
- Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Rum are all good as long as with diet mixers.
- Most cocktails contain silly amounts of sugar so are off the menu.
- Blood sugars will tend to drop several hours after drinking.
- Hangovers are worse now I am a diabetic.
- Blood sugars will tend to run lower than normal for the following 24 hours.
- More sensitive to insulin
Tips and Tricks which work for me
- I never drink on an empty stomach – good advice to non diabetics too really I guess.
- I always start off with a pint of beer, theory being it will raise my blood sugars, then when I drink red wine it will lower them again. Kind of like sugar surfing but with drinks.
- Have at least 1 drink of water for every 2 alcoholic drinks.
- Check blood sugars at least every hour, when tipsy you are much less likely to feel a hypo coming on, the 2 feelings can be similar.
- Always eat some long acting carbs during drinking, crisps are a great option.
- Never bolus for alcohol, always leads to a hypo for me. If you are going to drink then slightly erratic blood sugars are to be expected.
- Reduce my basal insulin prior to a night out, especially if a long night is planned.
- Always have some food before bed, I usually have some chips on my way home and bolus 10% less than usual for them. They are fatty and the carbs see me safely through the night.
- Always make sure the people I drink with are aware I have T1D, not usually an issue as most times I am with other type ones or family when drinking.
- Drink plenty of water before bed, helps with the sore head the next day too.
- Reduce morning basal the next day, helps stop low blood sugars that day.
You only live once
We only get one go at life on this earth, as such don’t let diabetes stop you living your life.
For 9 months after diagnosis I gave up so many things due to my diabetes. It was only after meeting others and chatting online I realised that we can live our lives to the fullest and not let diabetes define us.
If this blog rings true with you then you will know what I mean.
Take care and mind the dogs hair!