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The Healthy Living Magazine

5 Tips for Safe Drinking

By Karen Ansel, MS, RDN , ,

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Whether you’re uncorking your favorite merlot or grabbing a beer with your buddies, these strategies can help.

1. Eat first, drink second.

Unlike other nutrients, alcohol is absorbed directly through the stomach, so it can hit you hard quickly. Nibbling on a snack or meal that contains about 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate and a little protein and fat can slow things down and prevent unexpected lows later on. And what if you end up having more than a drink or two? Aim for 30 grams of carb per hour for each hour you’re drinking, and check your blood glucose levels frequently to make sure they stay in a safe range.

2. Think carb control.

Go with low-carb drinks such as vodka, gin, red or white wine, and light beer. Skip sweet dessert wines and sugar-heavy mixers such as juice; opt for diet or club soda instead. Looking for carbs to prevent low blood glucose? Snack on some food.

3. Know your numbers.

Check your glucose levels before, during, and after drinking, then again before bed. (Keep in mind that intoxication may make it harder to troubleshoot blood glucose issues.) If you have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that sounds alarms, be sure to program a low-glucose level so you’ll know if your glucose starts to drop. If you become hypoglycemic at any point, avoid alcohol (opt for juice or sugary soda instead) and treat with fast-acting glucose.

4. Help others help you.

Make sure someone is with you who knows the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and how to get help if you’re going low. Don’t forget to wear a medical ID so people will know that you have diabetes.

5. Know when to say no.

Certain people should avoid alcohol, including pregnant women, recovering alcoholics, those on certain medications (such as antidepressants), those with certain medical conditions (such as pancreatitis), and anyone who plans to take part in an activity that requires attention—such as driving. A designated driver is a must if you plan to drink while out.

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