What I Think About When I Have A Beer

Having a Beer With Diabetes

Let’s go ahead and say it–when we take a drink, our thought process breaks from the regular dude at the bar during happy hour. We have a diverse set of worries.

Normal people consider how many they’ve had. We consider how many carbs each drink has.

Normal people ponder whether or not they even like beer. We ponder whether or not our blood sugar is in a place to even drink a beer, then decide if we even like beer.

Normal people worry about whether they can drive their car home. We try to figure out the difference between being low, being tired, and being drunk, while still at the bar.

It’s a science and an art form–one navigated by experience. That experience is very much one’s own journey, one that I wouldn’t necessarily endorse traversing. Now on the other side, as a guy in his mid-twenties, I’m in a place where I can appraise my own approach to the world’s favorite beverage: beer.

Here’s my thought process, in sequential order:

1) Where’s my blood sugar at the moment?

This dictates the entire decision. If it’s high, I won’t order. If it’s low, I won’t order. If it’s in a stable place, I’ll see what local brew is on tap.

2) What was I doing before this?

If I was active, say riding the bike, I’ll be more cautious in bolusing for the brew. If not so active prior, I’ll tend to go straight up with a bolus for the amount of carbs.

3) How many carbs will this thing have?

I lean towards IPAs, which tend to have between 12-18 carbs per beer. Lagers usually have less. Any of the lighter beers made by name brand breweries have the fewest carbs. Do a little research or watch what happens diligently. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of knowing what a certain drink does to your blood sugar. You have diabetes. Act like a scientist. 

4) How many do I plan on having?

1-2 beers is where I hang out, usually. Any adventure outside of that zone is sure to bring about factors that I can’t account for, like losing track of how many carbs your consuming or how many units you’ve already taken. That’s the danger zone.

5) When did I have my first drink?

The liver is a pretty amazing organ capable of juggling our entire existence. It’s not perfect though. At a certain point, who knows when this will be for you, the liver will stop making glucose (a normal function), because it is too busy detoxifying alcohol. This leads to lows. Remembering when I started drinking usually gives me a nice roadmap to avoid a whiplash low blood sugar and timing a delicious meal of some kind.

6) Should I test my blood sugar?

Every time this thought comes through my consciousness, I respond with a yes. Test often.

For a more in-depth exploration of how you can parlay diabetes into a pick-up device while possible drinking beer, here’s a tutorial.

4 thoughts on “What I Think About When I Have A Beer

  1. OMG – you are fabulous! I’ve had T1DM for 49 yrs and have always drank alcohol whether I was of legal age or not. I learned the delayed hypoglycemia result and with a previous pump was able to do a % basal decrease and avoid the low BG. My last pump was just not good so we won’t go there. I currently have a t:slim w/dexcom and try to go in to exercise mode when drinking and try to eat CHO as well (I say “try” because I’m old and there’s so much socializing going on). I’ve had a good number of lows with this pump when drinking and when not (another dilemma)… Hence how I came upon your article(s). Keep up the reality!!

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