Although Homer Simpson is definitely not a source of what one may consider to be a source of salient wisdom, he is definitely quotable in Season 8 Episode 18 where he says, “To alcohol! The cause of… and solution to… all of life’s problems.”
The consumption of alcohol poses a distinct societal issue in modern times, as we have the world’s information and communication at our fingertips… even when we’re drunk! That’s not a good thing. How often have you heard of a friend drunk-texting, messaging or contacting an ex-partner? Or someone who has shopped and made frivolous and even ridiculous purchases online? It happens more than we care to think about, and most of us only realize our mistake and check our phones the morning after, while in the throws of a hang-over, questioning our life choices.
For someone with Type-1 Diabetes, there’s definitely more to think about when consuming alcohol than declaring one’s undying love for the one you left behind. There’s a great checklist available at Diabetes.ca (https://www.diabetes.ca/DiabetesCanadaWebsite/media/Managing-My-Diabetes/Tools%20and%20Resources/alcohol-and-diabetes.pdf?ext=.pdf) that will help you ascertain whether or not it would be safe for you to enjoy a drink or not. Further into the article, there a table that provides a general guideline to the number of carbs you may be ingesting, depending on what you drink.
The problem with alcohol is that one can never be certain what effect it will have on one’s blood sugars. While some drinks may cause your levels to rise, excess alcohol may actually cause your levels to drop dramatically since, you know, your liver is otherwise occupied…
If you’re going to consume alcohol, first and foremost, do it in moderation. This isn’t always an easy thing if you’re out for a weekend bender with your friends or you happen to be at Burning Man, but it can be helpful. Further, avoid using mixes that are full of sugar, such as fruit juices or regular pop.
Alcohol (depending on the drink) usually contains a lot of empty calories and can lead to weight gain. And if you’re anything like me, losing weight around the gut is difficult enough without the added obstacle. Alcohol may increase blood pressure, triglyceride levels and heart rate, all of which are big no-nos for someone with Type-1 Diabetes. Last but certainly not least, booze will often trigger your hunger reflex and make you want to eat, and our impaired judgment will often have you making less than healthy food choices while intoxicated.
If you’re going to consume, be sure that you do it with friends who are aware of your condition and some of the accompanying effects. Have a safe way home (which should apply to everyone, really), which could include a designated driver. Although I hate them, medical alert jewelry identifying you as a Type-1 is very important as well. Especially since some effects of alcohol consumption can mimic the effects of low blood sugar or worse; they may hide them.
Look, I enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage, especially when it can be enjoyed with others. In fact, I had the opportunity to sit and enjoy beers with a good friend of mine just last week. Like everything else related to Diabetes, the key is proper control and moderation. And stay off your phone, unless it’s to call for a ride home! ☯