Drink This, Not That to Control Blood Sugar

When you have diabetes, managing your diet is an important part of preventing blood sugar levels from getting too high. You probably already know you need to eat fewer carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates, in particular (sugary cereals, white breads, pastas, rice, potatoes, etc.) are quickly converted to glucose and can lead to dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels.

So you pay attention to what you eat. That’s great. But what you drink matters too, when you have diabetes. The next time you’re feeling a little thirsty, drink this, not that, to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Drink This

You don’t have to look far to realize that there are hundreds of different drinks to choose from to satisfy your thirst and help you stay hydrated. But some drinks are better for people with diabetes than others. Quench your thirst with one of these drinks:

Water.

That’s right. Make it your drink of choice. Why? Water contains zero calories, costs little to no money, helps you feel fuller to control appetite, and supports brain function and other systems in the body. And if you don’t like the taste of plain water, add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or try flavored water.

Herbal tea.

A cup of herbal tea is another approved drink for people with diabetes. But that doesn’t mean you can add a spoonful of sugar or top it off with heavy cream and syrup flavorings. Just go with a natural-herb blend. You may even want to try licorice root, which has a slightly sweet taste and may help control blood sugar levels.

Coffee.

If you have diabetes, you can still drink coffee. But make it black. Adding whipping cream, sugar, and flavored syrups can quickly turn a cup of coffee into a calorie bomb that can spike your blood sugar levels.

Milk and pure fruit juice.

Two other drinks that make the list approved for people with diabetes include milk and fruit juice. But these shouldn’t be your everyday drink of choice. Why? Milk contains lactose, which is a form of sugar. Drinking milk means you’ll be adding more carbs to your diet, too. But it’s still better than drinking soda. You can also drink pure fruit juice. But keep in mind fruit contains natural sources of sugar.

Not That

Pick your beverages from the “Drink This” list, and your chosen drink won’t negatively impact your blood sugar levels. And if you take a closer look at the list, you’ll realize there are also drinks you should avoid.

Soda and energy drinks.

Take a minute to read the nutrition label on the back of a soda bottle or energy drink, and look up the sugar content. A typical 12-ounce soda or energy drink contains 36 grams of sugar. And if you gulp down the usual 32-ouncer, you’re getting even more.

In case you’re wondering, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 37.5 grams of sugar per day for men and 25 grams of sugar per day for women. Yikes! And your doctor may even want you to consume less sugar per day.

Fruit punch and cocktails.

Show up to a party or picnic, and there’s a good chance you’ll find a punch bowl at the end of the buffet line. And unless you know it’s sugar-free, you should skip it. Fruit punch and cocktails are typically made from syrups high in sugar. If it’s not sugar-free, or you’re not sure, have a glass of water.

Alcohol.

Your best option, avoid or limit alcohol. Keep in mind that beer is made from malted grain and contains carbohydrates. Alcohol can actually cause a drop in blood sugar levels and interfere with medications. If you do drink, follow these guidelines: No more than two drinks per day for men, one drink per day for women, zero if pregnant.

The next time you sit down to eat a Diabetic-Friendly meal, pick a beverage from the Drink This list. You’ll avoid rapid spikes in blood sugar, too many carbohydrates, and too many calories.