fine, i’ll come clean: I drink a lot of wine. wine is one of my bff’s and it’s been a very loyal, life enhancing companion. when boys and friends fall short of cheering me up, a bottle of malbec or chardonnay can really turn my frown upside down. sorry, did I say bottle? I meant to say glass. ha! unfortunately, wine IS alcohol and alcohol DOES have bad shit in it as well as all of the magic that makes us love it so much. when we develop habits such as…wine, sometimes we forget that there are things to consider other than the fact it tastes like heaven and it makes us not want to punch holes through walls after particularly stressful days. this goes for all alcohol, for that matter. wine isn’t my only vice. I happen to also love craft beers, vodka, and a nice toasty hot toddy when I’ve come down with a gnarly head cold.
without much science involved, or any form of official research for that matter, a few years of drinking practice led me to realize that different forms of alcohol affect my blood sugar in different ways. any endocrinologist or physician will say, “well duh.” but this isn’t a medical blog, now is it? mastering the art of alcohol consumption as a diabetic can be quite the challenge, and it can be really scary if you ever fuck up. so, here are my findings from my boozy journey over the years and hopefully it will help you better understand what your body is doing when you decide to down a few adult beverages.
1. mixers are sneaky trouble makers. we diabetics don’t really drink juice anyway, right guys? soooo what do you think happens when you dip your solo cup in a giant bucket of “the force” at a KA party? exactly what you think is going to. and now that we’re not in college anymore, we need to be mindful that mixed cocktails can be sneaky trouble makers. I recently made the switch from tonic to soda with my vodkas and I am very proud of myself. sacrifices, man…they come in all shapes and sizes.
2. eat something decent and with protein. I know, this is old news. but for realsies, booze has been proven to cause hypoglycemia. this is a major misconception that even I struggle to understand. how can a sugary substance make me low? well, whatever, it can. science says so and it’s happened to me many times. even if you just have a baby snack right before you go out, it’ll do you huge favors in the long run. also, cover/bolus your snack about 90% and make sure there’s some nice hearty protein in there so it breaks down slowly over time. we don’t want to jack up our blood sugar, we just want our body having something else to focus on processing in our systems other than the alcohol. also, this will help prevent late night cravings which, inevitably, might be satisfied in the form of digiorno pizza or 7/11 burritos.
3. water –> wine –> water –> wine. do I sound like a prude yet? trust me on this one. drinking water while drinking alcohol seriously keeps your body in check. no, it doesn’t prevent you from getting drunk if you’re on a mission to avoid sobriety at all costs for the night. all water does, is help you slow your roll, and be more mindful of how many bud lights you’re chugging. also, most importantly, your hangover (mine are treacherous these days…I’m a grandma) will be much shorter and sweeter if you keep your hydration levels more balanced the night before. when we’re brutally hungover, we eat grease. when we eat grease, we need a ton of insulin. when we need a ton of insulin, we get fat. so…moral of the story: drink water. boom.
4. TEST TEST TEST TEST TEST HOLY SHIT DON’T FORGET TO TEST. this one was a BIGGIE for me in college. I’d go out, not test, come home, eat nachos, not test, not bolus, and pass out. I’d wake up in the morning and be like, 265 because I totally forgot to test before I fell asleep. or, after college I was a lazy ass and didn’t put my pump back on after prancing around late nighting. sleeping with a high blood sugar is one of the suckiest things you can do for yourself. waking up to a number like that can ruin your whole day. on the other, far more dangerous end of the spectrum, what if you’re hammered, didn’t eat anything, get a low in the middle of the night, and you’re too drunk to wake yourself up and correct it? hmm? yeah, scary stuff. let’s not do that ever, okay? I have fortunately self-shamed myself out of this atrocious habit, but if you still struggle with it, set an alarm on your phone before you go out with shouty capitals and a ton of emoticons to remind you to be a real grown up and do one last test before you go to sleep.
4. use your best judgement. you know your body better than anyone. doctors can advise you to live your life a certain way all they want, they obviously have your best interest in mind. but, as a 25 year old, I know how many times I’ve put my middle finger up to the rules and said, “sorry, I’m partying tonight.” I can say I have been incredibly fortunate and have never had a serious incident occur where alcohol and diabetes didn’t get along. I’ve puked, I’ve fallen asleep without testing, I’ve hidden my pump because there was a boy in the vicinity and I didn’t want him to know about it, I’ve done it all. but I’ll tell you now, it’s not worth pushing yourself to a point where you are not in control. control is our favorite word as diabetics, and as much as it sucks sometimes to feel like we can’t be as wild and crazy as our friends, that’s not necessarily true. I’m still often times the last person awake, dancing on coffee tables to Timber, pretending I’m cool. I know I’m not, but I intend to fake it til I make it. also, I don’t care who the dude is that you went home with, wear your damn pump to bed if it’s the last thing you do.
okay, I’m done preaching. below are some handy dandy charts I found on the interwebz that I will now be using on a weekly basis. CHEERS!