I’ve done a pretty good job at bashing my vices in the past couple of weeks. Self-improvement is never a BAD thing, so long as it doesn’t come at the cost of being who you are. With that in mind, I have recently discontinued the practice of purchasing cigars, I’ve reduced/eliminated my caffeine intake in my usual ways and I’ve cut out alcohol, except for on the rare occasions that one of my friends may invite me out for a beer to socialize (which hasn’t happened in a while).
The caffeine aspect has been the harshest, since I’ve stopped purchasing the energy drinks that have become a staple of my morning routine for the past few years. I’ll still enjoy a coffee once I get to the office, but that lack of the energy drink has left my body bitching up a storm the likes of a crack addict on withdrawals. It sucks. I haven’t really missed the cigars, which makes sense. It’s getting colder outside, and I have no inside venue in which to enjoy one. And it wasn’t the one or two cigars a month that could genuinely be considered a vice.
The alcohol aspect has been the interesting one. I’ve always prided myself on moderation and consuming certain forms of alcohol by virtue of flavour and not to become intoxicated. Since it had been about a month since I had consumed ANY alcohol, I decided to treat myself a few days ago with a bottle of cognac. I had just watched Van Damme’s Double Impact and I was itching to try it out. If you haven’t seen Double Impact, I highly recommend it. Great movie. Van Damme plays twins and one of them lives in Hong Kong, making a living peddling French cognac. I’m suggestible, so of course I had to try it.
The good news is that like most pure spirits, cognac is carb-free, meaning I could enjoy a glass of it without worrying about bolusing. The big problem with consuming alcohol when you have Diabetes, is it may not only be about dosing yourself with insulin. Different sources will provide different effects but the reality is that alcohol can either raise or actually lower your blood sugar, depending on how you react to it.
Because alcohol need to be processed by the liver and keeps it occupied, the liver may find itself unable to release glycol to help keep your blood sugars up. This can result in a significant drop in blood sugars and can catch on you quickly, if you aren’t monitoring yourself. In other cases, you may spike. This will happen when you consume something that isn’t a pure spirit. Beer for example, contains anywhere from 10 to 25 grams of carbohydrates per can or bottle. It can be tedious and difficult to bolus appropriately as you consume, especially if you’re not sure of how many carbs are actually in the beer you’re drinking.
Red wine, on the other hand, will only have between 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrates PER BOTLLE! And no, I’m not suggesting you sit back and suck down an entire bottle, I’m simply illustrating the difference, based on the drink you’re consuming. It can be hard to calculate, but there are a number of fitness apps and websites out there that will actually provide an estimate of how many grams of carbs may be in what you’re consuming.
If you want to be REALLY sure, reach out to your local distributor or the manufacturer of the drink you plan to consume. When I was still observing the tradition of doing Fireball shots on the anniversary of graduating from basic training, I contacted the company that actually makes the drink and found out that it sits at about 11 grams per standard shot. That makes for a lot of bolusing in a two or three hour period. Hey, it’s “flavoured corn whisky.” One has to expect that it would be sweet and sugared to high-hell.
Diabetes Canada has a great PDF document that I’ve used a lot in recent years, and you can find it here. I particularly like the last page, which provides a basic outline of carbohydrate amounts for standard alcoholic drinks. It’s only a basic guideline and you should always try and get confirmation of the specific amount contained in what you’re drinking. It can mean the difference between enjoying a couple of casual drinks with your friends or spending the night trying to lower or raise your blood sugars.
The reason I bring it up and why this is important is because we’re a couple of weeks away from hitting December, when the holidays will be just around the corner and potential celebrations and family get-togethers may happen. And with that comes the consumption of alcohol. Not always, obviously. but if you have Diabetes, it’s an important consideration.
Moderation is key, folks. Most people have been calling me crazy for quitting all these things at once. And maybe I am. granted, I did try that cognac, but it wasn’t great. I won’t be getting it again. But as we move into the holiday season, the Diabetes mantra remains the same: exercise, eat properly and monitor your blood sugars often. And enjoy in moderation. ☯️