Can you have your drink, and diabetes too?

When learning about my new diet requirements, guiltily, one of my first thoughts was,

“Will I be able to drink anymore?”

As a Twenty-Something gal, I undoubtedly like to relax and enjoy a refreshing alcoholic beverage from time to time (responsibly of course). When I posed this question to my endocrinologist, he curtly replied, “Yes you can still have a drink, just have any alcohol with meals”. Sounded like a plan to me! I can do that.

I waited to have my first drink for quite a few weeks after being diagnosed. This allowed me to adjust to my new eating schedule and insulin dosing. When I was ready to try drinking again, I carefully and methodically estimated my carb intake, dosed myself for the meal with the appropriate amount of insulin, and had a glass of delicious red wine. I thought I had done everything right. Except afterwards, my blood sugar went down low. Luckily not too low. But I was surprised by how the wine had impacted my sugars, and not in the way I had expected. Alcohol sounded like sugar to me, so I had assumed my sugars would go up if anything. Yet again, T1D surprised me.



I experimented on my own. I soon found that beer was a no-no since the high carb count caused my sugars to soar. This was quite a let down since I loved home brewing beers and trying new craft beers. However, wine had the opposite effect and seemed to drastically cause my sugars to drop. At first this seemed like an amazing gift. I could eat more carbs, take less insulin, drink wine and stabilize my sugars! While this did happen occasionally, I also learned it could be disastrous if the wine caused my sugars to drop too low.


When I confronted my endocrinologist about this perplexing situation, he did provide some insight.

The alcohol found in drinks causes the pancreas to reduce sugar production in the body. This in turn may leave more insulin in the body from earlier dosing, lowering sugars more rapidly.

In sweet drinks and beers, the sugars may rise due to high sugar and carb counts found in these drinks. Red wine that is not sweet, however, seems to keep my sugars pretty low.


The balancing act of drinking with diabetes is a tricky one and one that must be tailored and monitored for each person. When drinking, always be sure to eat food, limit your alcoholic intake, wear a medical ID bracelet to notify others that you are diabetic, drink slowly, and avoid mixing drinks. Drinking for diabetics and non-diabetics alike must be done responsibly and mindfully at all times.


*I am not a medical professional. All information is based on my own experiences and observances. Please consult a doctor before making any health or lifestyle changes.