Diabetes is a disease that makes eating and drinking difficult. Low sugar drinks and non-alcoholic beverages are great options for diabetics because they are healthy for them and will keep their blood glucose levels normal. Keep reading to find out all you need to know (and more) about non-alcoholic drinks for those with diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that those who have diabetes should avoid high sugar beverages to help keep their blood sugar down. Low sugar and non-alcoholic drinks are great options for diabetes patients, but you have to do some research first. Just because a drink says low sugar does not mean it is safe for diabetics.
What is considered a “low sugar” drink?
A low sugar drink is just as it sounds: a drink with not a lot of sugar. For example, a typical can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar. This measures out to be 9 teaspoons of sugar to give you a better idea of how much that is.
Regular soft drinks contain about the same amount of sugar, but Mountain Dew contains 46 grams of sugar per can. That is a large amount of added sugar. Regular soda is a no-no when it comes to diabetics because of that very reason.
Soda is not the only drink with a lot of sugar. Energy drinks, orange juice, grape juice and other fruit juice contain a lot of sugar also. Those with diabetes are recommended to stay away from those types of beverages also.
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Low sugar drinks are beverages that have little to no sugar in them. Diet soda is a common low sugar drink (even though they have artificial sweeteners). Usually drinks will have a label on them that say “low sugar” or “zero sugar” to indicate they are a low sugar beverage. They are also great for pregnancy (here are our favorite mocktails for pregnancy that aren’t necessarily low sugar).
Just because a drink is “low sugar” does not mean you should drink it every day. Artificial sweeteners are added to “zero sugar” or “low sugar” drinks to keep them that way, but there are dangers in artificial sweeteners as well. There have been studies that show artificial sweeteners are more likely to make you hungrier throughout the day.
At the end of the day, moderation is key. Too much of one thing is not good for you, so try some new drinks! There are plenty of delicious non-alcoholic drinks for diabetics (like our Non-Alcoholic Gin and Tonic and Ginger Beer Mocktail).
Why can’t diabetics have “high sugar” drinks?
Diabetics can’t have high sugar drinks because the high amount of sugar can cause hyperglycemia, also known as high blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are crucial to manage with diabetes, because if your blood sugar gets too high you could become severely dehydrated and go into a diabetic coma.
With diabetes, your body either can’t make enough insulin (a hormone that manages the amount of glucose in the blood) or it does not know how to process it correctly. There is a specific range a persons blood sugar levels should be in, especially those with diabetes. If their blood sugar is too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia), it can be very dangerous.
Drinks with high sugar content are a quick way to make a diabetics blood sugar shoot up. Because sugary drinks have such a concentrated amount of sugar, it can happen quickly and can be quite dangerous. Blood sugar control is essential with diabetics and one way to do it is to avoid high sugar drinks.
When someone has severe hypoglycemia, their blood sugar drops below the norm. It is typical to have headaches, brain fog, dizziness, and blurred vision with low blood sugar. Because glucose is the main source of energy for our bodies, you can also pass out from not having enough in your blood.
With hyperglycemia, it is common to be very thirsty, need to use the bathroom frequently, rapid heartbeat, and vision problems. The best way to manage high sugar levels is getting the correct dose of insulin. Diabetics may have insulin on them if it is appropriate for their diabetes.
Why diabetics should avoid alcohol
Alcohol has a lot of calories, which already makes it not diabetes friendly. It is important to talk to your doctor first before drinking if you have diabetes, as they can give you the best advice for your personal situation.
Many diabetes medications do not mix well with alcohol and could reverse the effects of the medicine. That can be extremely dangerous, especially when under the effects of alcohol and you are not thinking clearly. An important thing to remember is to always check your medications and if you can (or should) drink while taking them.
Sweet wines, dessert wines, and regular beer have carbohydrate content, which could raise your blood sugar. Low carb beer is a better option because it has less grams of carbs, but still could interfere with diabetes medications. Red wine (like we use in our non alcoholic mulled wine recipe) and white wine are okay for diabetics, but same thing as with any other alcohol and diabetes medications.
What are some other great drink options for diabetics?
There are plenty of drink options for those with diabetes that are not just water. Unsweetened coffee and teas are great options for diabetes patients. Green tea, herbal tea, and unsweetened iced tea are some examples.
Another good option would be a club soda or tonic water, especially at the bar. This Virgin Margarita on the Rocks recipe is a great low sugar drink option, as is this Non-Alcoholic Vodka and Dirty Martini Mocktail recipe. There are plenty of great low sugar drinks out there for diabetics; you just have to look.
Our Non-Alcoholic White Russian Mocktail is a delicious mocktail that is sweet and a low sugar drink. It only required a few ingredients, which makes it super easy. It is sometimes considered a dessert drink (I mean, I think so), which makes it a tasty drink and tasty dessert!
For a drink in the morning, our Non-Alcoholic Bloody Mary mocktail and our virgin Bloody Mary recipe with V8 are great options. They contain less than 10 grams of sugar! With the drink, you are making your own tomato juice, so there is no need to worry about the sugar levels in juice.
Sparkling water has become more popular lately and usually, that is a great option for diabetics! There are some sparkling water beverages that are not sugar free, so you should check the nutritional content before drinking. A lot of brands are sugar free and delicious, so for a fun low sugar drink for diabetics, sparkling water may be your answer.
Sugar free drinks are okay for those with diabetes to drink, but not all of the time. Even though these drinks are technically sugar free, there are sugar substitutes that still aren’t the healthiest for those with diabetes.
Some say that a cup of chamomile tea can help lower blood sugar. A study was done where people drank a cup of chamomile tea after every meal for six weeks and it showed their blood sugar levels lowered. There is no magic drink that will lower your blood sugar immediately, so it is very important to manage what you are drinking if you have diabetes.
Yes. Harder liquors like whiskey, gin, tequila, vodka, and rum are sugar free, but some diabetes medications do not mix well with alcohol and could cause health issues.
THE BOTTOM LINE
High sugar beverages can be dangerous for diabetics, so it is important to find low sugar drinks you can drink. Alcoholic drinks can contain a lot of sugar (and can affect diabetes medication), so finding a good non-alcoholic option or tasty non-alcoholic drinks for diabetics is key for diabetes management.
More non-alcoholic drink options:
- Popular Virgin Drinks
- Good Virgin Drinks
- Sparkling Non-Alcoholic Drinks
- What is a mocktail?
- Summer Mocktails