Woman sits between two glasses - one with a red alcoholic beverage and one that is clear or filled with water. Green garnish leaves sit on either side.

The Alcohol Decision with Type 2 Diabetes

For many people with type 2 diabetes, consuming alcohol in moderation is not a problem. There may be warnings about alcohol consumption with many common medications used to treat type 2 diabetes, though small amounts may not do harm. Care should also be taken if insulin is in the picture. Overall, just like carbohydrate intake, moderation is the keyword and concept.

The effects of alcohol on type 2 diabetes and mental health

For me, the relationship with alcohol has always been a little difficult due to pre-existing anxiety and depression. During my twenties, up until my type 2 diabetes diagnosis right before my 29th birthday, it was often all or nothing. Then, with the diagnosis, I started to question my alcohol usage and the role it played in developing type 2 diabetes at an early age. That did not necessarily mean that I avoided drinking all the time, it just meant that for a few years, I felt more conscious of how much I was drinking and how it affected my daily life with diabetes.

Eventually, with a more complicated life, it did become a more serious problem that was affecting my overall health, including type 2 diabetes management. No longer was I opposed to drinking mimosas full of sugar during Sunday Funday, and routine hangovers often gave a great excuse to skip a workout. A couple of years of this life combined with more stress and ignoring carbohydrate intake led to the highest A1C to date back in early 2017.

I gave up alcohol

Victoza helped me bring down the A1C…and the alcohol intake due to those warnings on the packaging of the injectable medication. As I prepared to move back to the Midwest after losing a close loved one, I also prepared to make an exit from alcohol. Some missteps followed though I stopped altogether with the last drink on July 4, 2018.

Being alcohol-free helps with diabetes management

The impact on diabetes management is clear – it helps to be alcohol-free. Sugary drinks are a thing of the past, and the hearty appetite for carbohydrates they created is also gone, making blood glucose easier to manage. Sure, there are excuses I make regarding exercise, though none of those include hangovers. There is also less worry about any damage the newly prescribed statin might do to my liver.

Most of all, finding joy and happiness is easier than it has been since before I ever drank my first sip of alcohol, and being stronger mentally and emotionally has shown in blood glucose management. When I encountered a flare-up of a non-diabetes related medical condition earlier this year, I found it much easier to cope even being fatigued and in pain.

Not that there are not challenges leaving alcohol behind while also dealing with type 2 diabetes. Every time a study comes up showing the benefits of low to moderate alcohol use, I briefly reconsider whether this is the right path. Having limited options of beverages to consume while dining out can be frustrating, as many “mocktails” include syrups or juices.

Overall, this decision was the right one for me and my future, minor annoyances aside. Becoming healthy, both emotionally and physically, is important as I start feeling the effects of life after 40 with type 2 diabetes.

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