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The #1 Worst Drinking Habit for Diabetes, Says Dietitian

Make sure you always have a snack on hand.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Diabetes can be a difficult diagnosis to deal with, but many Americans are currently living with one of the two types, and this number is growing. According to the CDC, 1 in 10 Americans has diabetes, which is about 37 million people.

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2, which both deal with insulin and blood sugar, just in different ways. If you have type 1 diabetes, it essentially means that your body has trouble producing insulin, which interferes with blood sugar levels. Those with type 2 diabetes can still produce enough insulin in their body, but their cells can't respond properly to it, which leads to insulin resistance. This ultimately leads to blood sugar levels being too high.

People often associate diet and exercise with type 2 diabetes, but the truth is that maintaining a healthy eating plan and regularly moving is also helpful for both types. One diet-related question that many people often have when it comes to managing their diabetes is whether or not they can continue to drink alcohol. While it's always important to talk with your doctor first, we wanted to talk with a dietitian to learn more.

"I would say if they are going to drink, sticking to one alcoholic beverage for women and two for men (max) is ok, but the drinks should ideally be considered one alcohol serving (aka no super-sized daiquiri), and it should be made with ingredients that are limited in sugar," says medical expert board member Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility.

Manaker notes, however, that the worst drinking habit someone with diabetes can have is drinking on an empty stomach.

"If the body needs glucose for energy, it will lean on the liver to break down its energy reserves, a process called gluconeogenesis," says Manaker. "Since alcohol is a toxin, and toxins are filtered from the body via the liver, if a person drinks, their liver will be enlisted to rid the body of this substance, even if other processes are needed (like gluconeogenesis)."

What this basically means is that, "if a person with diabetes drinks on an empty stomach, they may experience low blood sugar, as the liver won't efficiently break down its stores like it would if a person is not drinking on an empty stomach."

To avoid getting in a situation where you're drinking on an empty stomach, make sure to have some easy food you can grab on the go, or a snack to throw in your bag if you need it!

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha