Risky business: alcohol consumption

If you’ve already read up on our other articles regarding what foods make up a good diet for diabetics and pre-diabetics, then this one is a doozy for people who are considering where their favourite alcoholic beverages fit in.

The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only, and should not be a substitute for consulting an actual medical professional. Should you have further questions, please seek the proper authority. With that said, here are the things you should know about alcohol.

Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes

Alcohol is processed in the body very similarly to the way fat is processed, providing almost as many calories. Therefore, if you are diabetic and planning to drink alcohol, please note that it can cause your blood sugar to rise. Only drink alcohol occasionally AND when you know that your blood sugar levels are well-controlled. If you are following a calorie-controlled meal plan, one drink of alcohol should be counted as 2 fat exchanges.


Here are some ways that alcohol can affect diabetes:

  • While moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level, sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels.
  • Beer and sweet wine contain carbohydrates and may raise blood sugar.
  • Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can cause you to overeat and may affect your blood sugar control.
  • Alcohol can interfere with the positive effects of oral diabetes medicines or insulin.
  • Alcohol may increase triglyceride levels.
  • Alcohol may increase blood pressure.

How to Drink Responsibly

If you have diabetes and still want to consume alcohol, please consider these dietary guidelines:

  • Do not drink more than 2 drinks of alcohol in a one-day period. (Example: 1 alcoholic drink = 5ounce glass of wine, 1 ½-ounce “shot” of liquor or 12-ounce beer)
  • Avoid “sugary” mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials.
  • Drink alcohol only with food.
  • Drink slowly.
  • Mix liquor with water or diet soft drinks.


Should you have questions or queries of any sort, it is always highly recommended that you consult with your doctor. Especially those who are overweight or have high blood pressure or high triglyceride levels. Prolonged high blood sugar levels can worsen your diabetes condition, and non-compliance with your doctor’s orders regarding whether you can drink alcohol has the potential to be fatal. Professional medical advice should always be adhered to strictly.

Eat well and drink responsibly!