Drinking with Diabetes: It’s Not Simple to Bolus for Guinness


I don’t go out drinking very often. The truth is, I hardly go out at all since I’m usually up early to run and drinking with diabetes is complicated. But last night I was asked to go out for drinks at a nice little bar to celebrate the 35th birthday of one of the guys from my running group.

I ate a small dinner before going out, bolusing for the small amount of carbs I ate and at around 8:30 a friend picked me up and we drove downtown to the bar.

Everyone there was drinking beer and when the waitress came to take our order, I decided to go with the flow and order a pint of Guinness. As I’ve said before I don’t usually drink beer since diabetes and beer do not do well together, but I figured that I deserved a treat (and being half-Irish, my body needs an occasional Guinness). After I ordered I checked my blood sugar, which, in retrospect, was a little low for a post-dinner number.  I went ahead and bolused for my beer. 

A few minutes after we ordered the waitress came around again to tell us about specials, which included a good deal on Bushmills whiskies. I suddenly regretted giving in to my self about the beer and asked the waitress if I could change my order to a glass of Bushmills Malt Whisky.  Whisky doesn’t raise my blood sugar (it actually lowers it) and I never bolus for hard liquor or wine. But I had already bolused for beer.

While waiting for my drink I realized I was going to be in huge trouble if I didn’t get some carbs into me. Half my brain was listening to the conversation, laughing at jokes, while the other half was looking at the table and the menu trying to figure out what to do. I was not at all hungry and the bar food did not look appealing to me in the least.

My whiskey arrived. I tasted it and was very happy with my decision, but still did not know what to do about the bolus I’d given myself.  (The answer now, is very obvious, but for some reason it was not last night.) When the waitress came back to take an order for another round for the table I made my decision to have the Guinness after all. Surely there would be enough carb in that to cover the bolus.

I enjoyed my beer very much and relaxed into the party atmosphere. I had another Guinness (which I did not bolus for) and when the waitress offered chasers on the house I had a couple more shots of Bushmills whisky.

At around 11:30 we all decided to call it a night and head home.

I got home, took a shower and got ready for bed. I wasn’t drunk but was extremely tired. I could have easily forgotten to check my blood sugar, but I’ve been making sure to check at bedtime and I guess it’s tuned into a habit. It’s a good thing I did because my blood sugar was 49.

I haven’t seen such a low in a while and had I not checked, and treated it with an assortment of fruit, I don’t know what would have happened. I did not feel any symptoms of hypoglycemia.  Jess insisted we stay awake (and she did for a while).  I set an alarm to check again an hour and a half later – I was 113 – and when I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to go running I was 118.

I don’t know what went wrong, It may have been the whisky, or maybe I over bolused at dinner. It doesn’t really matter since I don’t think I’ll be drinking very much any time soon.


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Paul Mathews
Paul Mathews
2 years ago

Guinness should be classified as a health drink.

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