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alcohol and Diabetes


A small amount of alcohol will do you no harm. The general advice on drinking remains the same as for everyone else.

Sensible drinking limits

  • For men 3 units per day = 21 units per week
  • For women 2 units per day = 14 units per week

1 unit = half a pint of beer, a glass of wine or an English pub measure of spirits (a pub measure in Scotland is 1.5)

There are some precautions you should take.

  • Alcohol contains a lot of calories so keep your alcohol intake down if you want to lose or maintain your weight
  • Avoid low sugar beers which are high in alcohol and low alcohol beers which are high in sugar, and go for ordinary beer
  • Avoid drinks that are high in sugar such as sweet sherry, sweet wine, alcopops and liqueurs
  • Mixer and soft drinks should be diet, sugar free or low calorie
  • Don't drink on an empty stomach
  • If you are pregnant do not drink as alcohol can harm your baby
  • Don't drink and drive

Hypoglycaemia (hypos) Hypoglycaemia leaflet

  • Hypos can happen when drinking alcohol if your diabetes is treated with insulin or tablets
  • You may need to eat a bigger, starchy meal and adjust your insulin before you drink
  • Hypos can happen some time after a drinking session so check your blood sugar before sleep and in the morning
  • Always carry sugar sweets or tablets
  • Eat little and often while drinking
  • Wear or carry diabetes identification as a hypo can be confused with drunkenness

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