Alcohol and Diabetes

While the stance on alcohol has relaxed somewhat for people with diabetes, moderation is still key. Here's what you need to know before you imbibe.

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Enjoy in Moderation

Cheers! It's OK for you to enjoy a drink now and then. In fact, it might even be healthful for your heart and blood vessels. But the same guidelines apply to people with diabetes that apply to the general population -- drink alcohol in moderation. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that if your diabetes is in control and you haven't abused alcohol or have other health reasons to avoid it, you can enjoy it in moderation:

  • For women: No more than one drink a day.

  • For men: No more than two drinks a day.

Alcohol Choices

Alcohol doesn't provide any nutrients, but it does add calories. These empty calories can be destructive to your diet plan if weight loss is a goal. Whereas carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, alcohol has 7 calories per gram.

Generally, you ingest about 100 calories for every one alcohol choice. Examples of one alcohol choice include:

  • 5 ounces of dry wine

  • 3.5 ounces of dessert wine

  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (gin, rum, whiskey, vodka)

  • 1 ounce of coffee liqueur

  • 1 ounce of sake

  • 12 ounces of beer

Keep in mind that few hosts or bartenders measure precisely, and many pour more than the recommended portion. "Calories from spirits can add up fast," says Lisa Bunce, M.S., R.D., of Back to Basics Nutrition Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. "Three alcoholic drinks can equal an entire meal's worth of calories."

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