This weekend we were celebrating one of our friend’s birthdays. We went to the Daily Grill here in Fresno, and decided to enjoy their happy hour, which means great deals on booze and fried food. I am sure most of you reading this are probably rolling your eyes or thinking in your head she must be crazy, people with diabetes should not be eating or drinking this type of stuff. Well, to a certain extent you are correct, fried food does a number to my blood sugars if I am not paying attention, but the thing you are somewhat wrong about is the alcohol. Let me explain.
Now this may surprise some of you, but alcohol does not raise blood sugars. In fact, it does the exact opposite. Most alcohol begins as a carbohydrate, but during the fermentation process those carbohydrates are broken down leaving little to no sugar in the beverage. Now, don’t get me wrong this is pure alcohol we are talking about here, not mixers. The thing that raises a diabetic’s blood sugar while drinking is usually the things mixed into the drink. For example, I love to have a little Malibu with pineapple juice. The pineapple juice would make my blood sugars raise, not the rum.
Here is what happens when your body metabolizes alcohol. When your blood sugar levels begin to drop your liver will release stored glucose into your blood stream to help your blood sugars raise. When you are drinking alcohol, your liver has other responsibilities that need to be taken care of first, that being to get the alcohol out of your system as quickly as it can. This job distracts your liver from sending glucose out into your blood stream when your body is in need of it causing people to drop to severe low blood sugars. Because of this little glitch it is important to eat carbohydrates while you eat to keep your sugars from dropping too low.
All in all we had a nice afternoon celebrating a friend, eating some food, and sharing a celebratory cocktail or two. I gave myself a small amount of insulin for the food I ate and the mixer that was in my appletini and survived the evening with normal blood sugars and feeling great. I did have to have a cut off point when our good friends made sangria for us later that night, because as a diabetic you never want to fully test your limits with alcohol.