Drinking alcohol with type 1

is there any problem drinking alcohol when u have diabetes type 1
does any one have experience in this field
thanks

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Yes! I love drinking wine :slight_smile:, but I do need to make adjustments when I drink because I have type 1.

Here’s an Australian article that sums up the problem:

“People with type 1 diabetes face more risks
when drinking alcohol than people without
diabetes. Alcohol can affect your blood glucose
levels (BGLs), which may cause hypoglycaemia
(a ‘hypo’).
When you drink alcohol, your liver thinks it is
a toxin that needs to be processed. Until the
alcohol is completely processed, your liver will
not release a sufficient amount of glucose into
your blood which means your BGLs are lower,
and may lead to a hypo. Sometimes your BGLs
are first raised by the sugar content in some
alcoholic drinks (which are mixed with soft
drink) and then lowered once your liver starts
processing the alcohol. The risk of a hypo
occurring is possible both during the time you
are drinking, as well as for many hours after
drinking.”

T1s must use insulin to cover the glucose our livers output (basal insulin), but when we drink, our livers may not put out as much of that glucose. This makes us at risk for dropping low. You can adjust your basal rate in your pump or eat a few carbs without dosing to compensate for this problem. It can be difficult to estimate how your basal needs will be affected by the alcohol.

Some T1s may struggle with the sugar content in some alcoholic beverages as well. Liquor generally doesn’t have any carbs, but wine has some carbs and beer can have lots. Each of these may also have different effects on how much glucose your liver outputs while you drink. The mixers in cocktails might also have carbs, but you can control that a little more easily.

I like drinking wine best- mostly because I love it, but also because it has a few carbs in it. I don’t dose for those carbs (unless it’s a dessert wine). Those few carbs tend to be exactly what I need to offset the reduction in glucose output from my liver.

Whereas beer has way too many carbs, and I have trouble with high blood sugars (even with bolusing for the carbs). Alcoholic drinks generally don’t list carbs, so you’re essentially guessing at the sugar content. That becomes more of a problem with more sugar! One beer is probably less of a problem than two or three though. Some T1s enjoy drinking beer, so it can be done!

Using a cgm can help make drinking safer because you’ll be alerted when your blood sugar is out of range. You’ll also know the direction it’s headed.

I’d generally recommend limiting yourself to 2-3 drinks. This is good advice for non-Ds too!

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I usually limit my alcohol drinking to one or two five-ounce glasses of wine with my evening meal. I like red wine and do bolus for five grams of carbs per serving. I will often, but not always, trend lower while sleeping after drinking wine in the evening. I’ve found the most dependable way to deal with this is to set an alarm for about 1:00 a.m. and make any needed adjustments then.

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I definitely have experience in this field! I overdid it way too many times in university (and sometimes after), but I always made sure I ate something when I drank and tested (which was somewhat entertaining for people at pre-drinks when I’d pull out the glucometer bag and not something I was ashamed of). I usually woke up low or somewhat low, but you have to know your body. I’ve taken many chances but learned early on that I don’t seem to be in serious trouble no matter how low I am, and that I can recognize the signs of low blood sugar and treat myself even when I’ve been drinking. If it wasn’t for these 2 things I might have gotten in serious trouble, but luckily only ever got sick from drinking (which was a colossal waste of time, money and good brain cells looking back on it all) and never from diabetes. These days I enjoy a good glass or two of scotch, rye, wine or a craft beer now and then. Whiskey doesn’t raise my BG at all. Beer definitely raises blood sugar and is hard to bolus for without going low. I stay away from IPAs as these will send blood sugar skyrocketing. Try to stick to light/pale blonde beers if you can. I don’t see much of an affect from wine. Coors light is low in carbs but I realized if I’m going to enjoy a beer might as well drink something that actually tastes good!

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I have quite a bit of experience in the subject. I avoid sugary drinks like virtually all mixed drinks unless mixed with sugar free mixers. Lite beer is manageable due to its minimal carbs, red wine is a non issue for carbs for me, I don’t bolus for it, it actually lowers my blood sugar and stabilizes it if anything…

The main risk of alchohol specific to type 1 is that it can affect your blood sugar, and your ability to recognize problems with your blood sugar… but in moderation, if you know how it affects your sugars, it’s fine

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27 posts were split to a new topic: Alcohol, acceptable in moderation or not at all?

This is certainly what works for me. Some crackers or bread sticks or something like that with an evening cocktail seems to balance out, and I do not have a problem with going low in the night because of one or two drinks. Also, my cocktails often contain carbs, in the form of simple syrup or bitters such as Campari. I do bolus for the combined beverage/snack carbs, but sometimes don’t count all the carb. A meal always follows, so there’s minimal risk of going low while my liver is preoccupied.

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You can find a lot of information here:

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In case anyone needs a reason. Just be careful of the sugar.

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The only alcohol that has driven my BG low consistently are dry white wines. watch my BG extra if I drink more than a glass. Reds and spirits don’t seem to cause any problem with me.

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I went to the winery because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of the grape, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau after a nice glass of Pinot Noir

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@Stemwinder_Gary
@Lorraine

Would it be possible to split the thread and spin off the posts discussing the merits of alcohol? That actually is a good subject to discuss and deserves its own thread.

This would then allow the original poster to stick with information regarding their question which is also valid but has become overshadowed (IMHO).

I believe this is the best way to allow all parties to continue there very valuable input and conversation without stepping on each other’s toes.

:slight_smile:

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Done. Hopefully I did a good enough job of selecting which comments to go where! Thanks for the suggestion, @Tim35.

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To get back to your question, I say yes! I have no problem having a glass of wine or a beer in the evening. I don’t go crazy, one or two glasses and I always have my CGM on just in case. I don’t do mixed drinks due to the amount of sugar in many mixers. I do love a good margarita but the blood sugars afterwards don’t love me.
And there are some that actually recommend a drink in the evening to help with dawn phenomenon as it turns off the liver producing sugars.
Again, your diabetes may vary (and probably will) but a quick check in with your medical team might make help answer any questions. Most medical professionals know we drink and could have the answers you need.
I am a firm believer in living your life to your fullest and don’t let your diabetes change that!

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I did, and I found it harder to control glucose. However, new pumps coming out will and do self-adjust for glucose prediction software. I am not sure if alcohol turning into glucose will negatively affect the pump’s ability to adjust itself.

That doesn’t happen. Alcohol itself has no carbs and does not directly affect glucose levels, unless people also consume carbs/sugar with the alcohol (like in some alcoholic beverages that are sweetened or have carbs in addition to the alcohol; those carbs will absorb like any others). Alcohol itself though affects blood glucose levels only through suppression of liver glucose output, thereby lowering them gradually and reducing basal needs. New closed loop should actually respond to that better than non-adjusting basals, in theory, since basals would back off as blood sugars drop.

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I used to drink a fair bit during university, though no more than your average university student. A lot of the time I was probably a bit blaze about the process, I rarely ever bolused specifically for beer when I went out, and tended to just drink and check my blood sugar when I got home. The results would often vary with my blood sugars being high, or being low.

I stopped drinking about 2 and a half years ago, right around the time I decided to really focus on being much more tightly controlled. However, now that I’ve got my blood glucose fairly tight, I do wonder if I can afford to bring back in the occasional glass of red wine, as I often miss that with a nice dinner or to celebrate an occasion.

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Getting tight blood sugar control is something you have to create everyday anew; you can’t get control of it and then relax.

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All the more reason an experiment or several to test out how a glass of wine affects things should be fine—if it doesn’t work, you can move forward.

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Here we go again…