We all know diet is particularly important when you have diabetes because foods affect our blood sugar levels. But many beverages will do the same, so it’s also important to keep track of what you drink throughout the day.
Here’s a look at the best drinks to have with your diabetes diet, as well as the beverages to avoid whenever possible.
Top 5 best drinks when you have diabetes
1. Water: Nature’s nectar, water is the best way to stay hydrated throughout the day as every system in your body needs water. Drinking a glass of water at the first signs of a sugar or food craving may also deter you from consuming those extra calories.
2. Unsweetened tea: Perfect in any weather, hot or cold unsweetened black, green or herbal tea is an excellent drink choice. Just be mindful of consuming too much black and green tea, which has caffeine and can affect your sleep.
3. Unsweetened coffee: No need to blacklist your morning cup of joe. Just try it without sugar, and if you prefer it with milk – try a low-fat milk or milk alternative. Given the caffeine in coffee, moderation is key here too.
4. Sugar-free or homemade juices: You can still enjoy juice when you have diabetes; however, it is important to choose your juice wisely. Making your own juice is a good way to control the sugar content – or eliminate it entirely. If you’re drinking commercial juices, opt for sugar-free. Even pure fruit juices will cause your blood sugar levels to spike, so drink them in moderation.
5. Low-fat milk or milk alternatives: Calcium-rich milks that are low in fat are another good choice if you have diabetes. Moderation is key, because even low fat milk can be a hidden source of carbohydrate. Another option is to try a sugar-free milk alternative, such as almond, soy or cashew milk.
Top 5 worst drinks when you have diabetes
1. Soda or pop: One 12-ounce can of soda has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. If that’s not enough to deter you, remember this will not only raise your blood sugar levels, but contributes to your daily calories intake as well.
2. Energy drinks: Research has shown that energy drinks (high in caffeine and carbohydrates) can make your blood sugar levels spike and potentially cause insulin resistance. Drinking energy drinks can also cause the jitters and lead to insomnia with prolonged use.
3. Sweetened fruit juices: Similar to soda or pop, most fruit juices are high in calories and loaded with sugar, causing blood sugar spikes.
4. Diet soda: Even without sugar, it is best to strike diet sodas off your beverage list. Studies have shown that diet soda consumption has been linked to weight gain and metabolic issues which is never good, especially when you have diabetes.
5. Alcohol: While most alcohol does not contain sugar, most mixed alcohol drinks do. Beer and wine are also a source of extra calories and carbohydrates, which can affect your blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain. As long as you are meeting your diabetes targets, you can have an occasional beer or glass of wine when you have diabetes. But there are exceptions to that rule you can read more about here. Also keep in mind that there are links between alcohol consumption and heart issues so moderation is key. It is also important to acknowledge that alcohol can impact your blood sugar, and may cause hypoglycemia (especially for those using insulin).
Read also about Alcohol consumption and the risk of heart disease in diabetes: everything in moderation
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favourite drinks on occasion. But picking the best drinks for your diabetes most of the time, will help you keep calories in check and ensure you don’t send your blood sugar levels into a spiral. Now that’s something worth drinking about!