Have you been swallowing myths about alcohol and diabetes? Find out!

Drinking alcohol increases your risk of getting diabetes.

Compared with teetotalers, people who consume up to three alcoholic drinks a day are at least one-third less likely to get diabetes, on average—and if you already have diabetes, one-third less likely to get heart disease. But drink more than three a day, and your risk of getting diabetes goes up 43%!

Three drinks a day is fine for people with diabetes.

While up to three drinks a day may be associated with reduced diabetes risk, it’s not a healthy amount to drink every day! At that level, other health risks go up. Instead, stick to the guidelines for the general public—drink only if you can do so safely...don’t start to drink for health...stick to an average daily limit of one drink for women, two for men.

Always have food with a drink if you have diabetes.

For people with diabetes, drinking without eating can cause blood sugar levels to plummet. It's especially likely to happen if you take insulin or medications that stimulate insulin release. A carb-containing snack or meal alongside the drink will help raise your blood sugar—which, in this case, is a good thing.


If you feel dizzy after a drink or two, that means you're getting drunk.

While intoxication can certainly make you feel dizzy, so can low blood sugar, aka hypoglycemia. The symptoms can be so similar—feeling faint, dizzy or confused—that it’s a good idea to wear a diabetes bracelet. That way, if you have a problem, people will know it's your diabetes, not your drinking—and that you need a carb snack to help bring your blood sugar back up.

Alcohol has carbs, so diabetics need to count drinks in their meal plans.

Alcohol itself has no carbohydrates. So hard liquor which is almost purely alcohol and water (gin, vodka, bourbon, whiskey, scotch, dry wine, etc.) has essentially zero carbs. A light beer averages only five grams of carbs. But a regular 12-ounce beer has 13 grams and five ounces of sweet wine has five grams. Watch out for mixers: Four ounces of tonic water has 11 grams of carbs...fruit juice, 15 grams...a six-ounce Margarita, 29 grams. If you count carbs in your meal plan, count these!

Even one glass of wine every day can lead to weight gain if you have diabetes.

People with diabetes are right to be concerned about weight, since excess pounds make diabetes more difficult to control. But moderate drinking can fit into a calorie-controlled diet. In a two-year study, people with diabetes drank either mineral water or a five-ounce glass of wine (about 100 calories) with dinner every night. This moderate amount of wine didn't lead to weight gain or increased belly fat. Nor did it affect blood sugar control.