If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, you probably have a lot of questions about how your lifestyle needs to change. You’ll want to know about what your diet should look like, what medications you might need to go on and what other complication might co-occur. Once you’ve addressed the top priority questions with your doctor, your mind will likely wander to some lifestyle choices like drinking alcohol, particularly around holiday seasons.
It’s perfectly understandable to want to know how alcohol has a place in your life as a diabetic, if at all. If you’re someone who has always enjoyed a drink at the end of the day or a few on the weekends with friends, you might not be willing to give that up because you’re a diabetic. And you don’t have to.
It is important to know the relationship between alcohol and blood sugar. Diabetes.org reports that liquid sugars such as those found in booze are absorbed much quicker by the body than those found in food, meaning they can cause rapid blood sugar fluctuations. That’s true even for non-diabetics, but more dangerous for diabetics. Alcohol doesn’t always mix safely with certain medications used to treat diabetes. Furthermore, low blood sugar and intoxication can look very similar – both involve slurring, fatigue and dizziness – so it can be more difficult for a diabetic to notice the signs of low blood sugar when intoxicated. Speak to your doctor about how to interact with alcohol if you are a diabetic. If they give you the greenlight, try some of these mixed drinks that are safe for diabetics.
Vodka does not contain any added sugar and has a low carbohydrate count making it a good spirit for diabetics. While most traditional juices found in mixed drinks like orange juice or cranberry juice can cause a blood sugar spike, tomato juice and more specifically Bloody Mary mix is low in sugar. Another diabetic-friendly feature of the Bloody Mary is the food skewer. Today, there’s a growing trend of putting substantial snacks on that skewer like cheese, olives and sausage. Having a bit of food with your alcohol minimizes the chances of a blood sugar spike, so pile some sustenance on that skewer.
Simplified French 75
If you’re looking for something fancy and celebratory, try a simplified version of the French 75. The traditional recipe calls for champagne, lemon juice, gin and simple syrup. You can make a diabetic-friendly version for swapping out the simple syrup and adding in Stevia or another zero sugar sweetener. Gin is another low-sugar, low-carb spirit that’s safe for diabetics. And dry and brut champagne are among the best grape-based booze for diabetics because of their low carbohydrate content.
Vodka and Club Soda
When in doubt, diabetics can’t go wrong with a vodka and club soda. Vodka has no added sugar and a low carbohydrate count. Plus, if diabetes and weight issues go hand in hand, you can appreciate that this is a low calorie drink. There are no calories in club soda and just shy of 100 calories in a shot of vodka, so you only get the vodka calories in this drink. Add some lime juice for a little flavor. If you need some sweetener, add Stevia.
Whiskey or Rum and Diet Coke
There’s a myth that diabetics can’t enjoy some of the darker spirits like rum or whiskey because of the sugar content. However, rum, whiskey and bourbon do not contain added sugars. The issue lies within the popular mixers for these drinks such as Cocoa Cola, Pepsi and ginger ale. But diabetics can safely enjoy a Whiskey or rum and coke – they just need to stick to the diet or sugar-free varieties of the mixers. That means a classic whiskey and diet ginger ale is also a safe choice.
A New Take On The Long Island Iced Tea
A Long Island Iced tea might seem completely off limits to a diabetic, but there are healthy ways to make this classic cocktail. This recipe from Splenda has only eight grams of carbohydrates and six grams of sugar. In general, this cocktail is heavy on the booze so diabetics should not consume more than one in a night. Do have something to eat with this drink in order to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Skinny margaritas have become increasingly popular among diabetics and non-diabetics alike because of their low sugar and low calorie content. Anybody can enjoy this refreshing summer cocktail. The easiest recipe calls for nothing beyond Cointreau, tequila, lime juice and simple syrup but diabetics will use Stevia in place of the simple syrup. You can dress it up by adding jalapeno slices for a spicy variety.
A Lighter Mojito
Rum doesn’t have any added sugars, making it a diabetic-friendly spirit. If you’re craving a refreshing mojito, there are healthy ways to make this traditionally sweet drink. Mix together some club soda, lime juice, crushed ice, light rum, fresh mint and Stevia for a low-calorie, low-carb and low-sugar variety of this summer cocktail.
A Dry Martini
Martinis can be the perfect classy cocktail for a diabetic – the trick is to skip the vermouth. Vermouth is unfortunately high in sugar. One serving of vermouth has more sugar than a regular Pepsi. So if diabetics are feeling like having their James Bond moment, ask for a dry or even extra-dry martini. This will mean little to no vermouth. You will want to stick to top shelf gins or vodkas since you’ll be able to taste the spirits very strongly in a dry martini.
Avoid These Drinks
Unless you are making a diabetic-friendly version in your own kitchen, avoid the types of drinks that are typically served in a pineapple with whipped cream and a tiny umbrella. Traditional margaritas, Pina Coladas, daiquiris, rum slushies, Bahama Mamas and the like are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates that can be very problematic for diabetics. While many wines are acceptable for diabetics, dessert wines like port and sherry should be avoided as these are high in sugar.
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