Summer is almost here and recently I’ve been to some gatherings where food was being grilled and beer was being served. I love beer. I wanted to have a beer. Or two. Or three. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, although I gave up carbs easily, I didn’t give up beer. (What can I do? I’m half Irish).
During the winter I don’t actively miss beer, but this time of year – the barbeques, picnics, weekends on the beach – they all scream ice cold beer. And my brains screams back beer and diabetes don’t mix.
A few months ago, after completing a race, I went out for a drink with a few of the guys I ran with. Everyone ordered a beer, and I, after many months of not having any because I know that beer and diabetes do not mix well, decided to go with the flow. I ordered a pint of Stella. I figured my body would have an easier time dealing with it after the race, and I also decided ahead of time that I would only have one.
I enjoyed my cold beer. I really enjoyed it. And although I only had one, it felt like enough. I felt rewarded for the good race I had run. Some occasions demand a beer, despite diabetes, and this was one of them.
The truth is that there are many occasions that call for a beer. Call me a quintessential (diabetic) male, if you must, but there’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot day and watching a game, baseball, football, basketball or soccer. There also some meals I always associate with beer, like pizza, steak, burgers…
But since being diagnosed with diabetes I’ve found drinking beer to be a challenge, one I don’t always feel like I win. On the day of the race I had my beer, bolused for it, and enjoyed having it, but when I started walking home (the bar was less than a mile from home) I got that feeling I get when my blood sugar goes into the 250’s.
I was walking with a friend and after a few steps I told him, “I knew I should have had whisky”. Then I started telling him how beer and diabetes don’t mix well and how I had basically given beer up after years of trying to cover it with insulin, and never succeeding
Beer is so tricky because of its high carbohydrate content and relatively low alcohol content (4%-8%). Although alcohol is a carb it actually reduces blood sugar levels with out needing insulin (kind of like running). When I drink wine (dry red) it has very little effect on my blood sugar. Anything stronger, whisky, vodka, gin… comes with a tendency for hypoglycemia – so food is always a good idea. But beer is entirely different. Like pizza and bagels it seems to take a very gifted diabetic to bolus correctly for beer, and the more you drink the harder it gets and not only because of the fog in your head.