Question: What precautions should I take if I choose to drink alcohol?
Answer: There are certainly precautions that everyone should take when drinking alcohol. When you have diabetes, there are some especially important things to pay attention to. Alcohol is actually metabolized very quickly. It really goes right in and through your stomach and gets absorbed quite quickly. And it's broken down by the liver. So you do need to be paying attention to whether or not you have eaten. It's really not a good idea for people with diabetes to be drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. The recommendation is really that women consume no more than one serving a day and men no more than two. And that's not to say that if you don't currently drink alcohol that you should start drinking alcohol, but if you do choose to consume alcohol, you really do want to be paying attention to the amount that you're drinking. And remembering that it is metabolized a little bit differently and it will get into your system very quickly. So you don't want to be doing that on an empty stomach. Important to be sure that you're getting some food and paying attention to eating some food when you're consuming alcohol.
The other thing to remember is that there are different kinds of alcohol that can be consumed with different mixes. If you're drinking a mixed drink that's got juice of any kind in it, you're going to need to be paying attention to that juice and taking that into consideration when you're adjusting your insulin dosage to account for that juice. If you're drinking beer, that certainly has got some carbohydrate in it, so you may need to be paying attention to that, although, again, alcohol is really broken down more like fat is. If you're having wine, it's certainly and oftentimes considered to have some health benefits associated with it, at least red wine, but that does not mean that one should consume more than the recommended one glass for women and two for men. Really, that's most days the recommendation. Not, again, encouraging people to feel like they've got to drink alcohol every day. It is important -- alcohol for many can be used to celebrate, can be used to relax -- it is important for people with diabetes to also consider some other means by which they will relax and reduce stress. But if you do choose to drink alcohol, be sure you do it wisely and not on an empty stomach.