Alcohol and diabetes in the festive season 23 December 2014 *A drink or two for many people is part and parcel of celebrating the festive season, but did you know many people will triple their alcohol intake in the lead-up to Christmas? Adding excess kilojoules to their diet before they have even started eating.* Another way of looking at it is party-goers could drink an average of 10 standard drinks of alcohol a week – the equivalent of 40 glasses of wine or almost 25 schooners of full strength beer during the festive season. The recommendations for how much alcohol people with diabetes should drink are no different to recommendations for the general population, which is currently two standard drinks a day with some alcohol free days each week. Some people may need to drink less alcohol than these general recommendations, so it’s important to discuss drinking alcohol with your diabetes health care team. If you are taking certain diabetes medications or insulin, it is recommended you drink alcohol with a meal or some food containing carbohydrate and monitor blood glucose levels during and after drinking to avoid alcohol-related low blood glucose levels (hypos). Ask your doctor or credentialled diabetes educator about any effects alcohol is likely to have on the tablets or insulin you are taking for your diabetes. So what is a standard drink? 285ml regular beer 60 ml fortified wine 100ml wine 30ml spirits 425ml low alcohol beer (less than 3% alcohol) It is very easy to over-estimate a standard drink so it’s important to be familiar with the size of a standard drink for each type of alcohol. You can do this by: Checking the amount of standard drinks on the label of a bottle of wine or on the back of a bottle or can of beer Measuring out a standard drink so you know what it looks like Being aware that most wine glasses, when full, can hold two or more standard drinks It’s also important to consider how many kilojoules you’re consuming in your drink. The average glass of wine contains 342 kilojoules The average glass of full strength beer contains 433 kilojoules The average bottle of vodka alcopop (275mL) contains 723 kilojoules The average can of rum and cola (375mL) contains 1038 kilojoules Note: Compare this to the average cooked turkey breast (150g), which contains 762 kilojoules. Now that’s food for thought! * Tips for enjoying the festive season while avoiding too many extra kilojoules:* Limit very sweet drinks such as regular soft drink mixers, sweet liqueurs and pre-mixed alcoholic beverages Choose wine, low-alcohol beers or spirits mixed with diet mixers Drink some water or a diet soft drink before drinking any alcohol and in between each alcoholic drink Sip alcohol slowly Dilute alcohol where possible. You can do this by making a beer shandy by mixing beer with low-joule lemonade or diluting wine with soda water.