Diabetes-Friendly Drink Recommendations

For those living with diabetes, each drink becomes an exercise in managing blood sugar
September 21, 2020 Updated: September 21, 2020

Food and eating aren’t the same when you have diabetes. If you’re living with Type 1, Type 2, or gestational diabetes, mealtime can be a cause of stress; but another source of worry is what to drink when you have diabetes.

If you’re controlling your diabetes and blood sugar by diet and exercise or with medications and insulin, you still need to be cautious of the food and drinks that enter your body.

Living with Type 1 diabetes myself, I know how one wrong drink choice can affect my blood sugar levels. A Type 1 diabetic doesn’t produce insulin themselves so they must inject insulin with each meal. Making sure you account for what you consume, including drinks in between meals, is important.

The same is true for those without diabetes as well, if not on such an immediate timeline. In fact, drinking just one sweetened drink a day can raise your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.

People tend to think that fruit juice is a good choice, but with a high concentration of fructose, diabetics should only consume fruit in its whole form. When fruit is juiced, it is stripped of all its fiber, and fiber is what helps to slow down the blood sugar spike. Consuming fruit juice can set a diabetic on a blood-sugar roller coaster. Fruit juice should be reserved for when you’re dealing with hypoglycemia—in this case, you are drinking it to increase blood sugar that has fallen too low.

Alcohol is another beverage that diabetics should be wary of. Alcohol is a contributing factor to hypoglycemia. You will first experience an increase in your blood sugar levels due to the sugar content, then a reactive drop in blood sugar, resulting in cravings, headaches, dizziness, fainting, and more. Avoid alcohol altogether, or minimize to one low-sugar drink once or twice a week.

I don’t think I really have to mention it here, but soft drinks, sports drinks, or any artificial fruit drink are very high in sugar and should strictly be avoided. A not-so-obvious option to avoid is diet soft drinks or other diet drinks. Although they don’t contain sugar and don’t increase blood sugar levels much at all, they don’t contribute to your health in any way. In fact, some studies have shown harmful effects they can have on the body.

Diabetics are often encouraged to consume artificial sweeteners, resulting in a high intake. My advice: If you still have a craving for sugary drinks, purchase the all-natural sweetener stevia, which can be found in health food stores and is now sold in packets. Stevia doesn’t contribute to raised blood sugar levels.

Drinks for Optimal Blood Sugar

While the above are drinks to be avoided, what follows are drinks to indulge in.

  • Water:  An obvious option, and not much of an indulgence, but a very important beverage. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times, and you’ll find you won’t be tempted to pick up a sugary drink. Purchasing a good quality water filter is also a good idea to avoid any unwanted chemicals in your water.
  • Herbal teas: You can find an herbal tea to suit any taste. If you prefer, add a spoonful of stevia to sweeten it. Herbal teas are excellent warm or chilled with half a lemon squeezed in.
  • Unsweetened almond or coconut milk:  With only 2 grams of carbohydrates per cup of unsweetened almond milk, or 1 gram per cup of unsweetened coconut milk, these are good options for diabetics. The fat content will also slow down any rise in blood sugars. I add these milk alternatives to smoothies, cereal, or drink them on their own.

For a high fiber, low carbohydrate chocolaty treat, try out this recipe. The high good fat and fiber content will help balance your blood sugars and still give you a way to enjoy a yummy, healthy, chocolaty drink.

High Fiber Chocolate Berry Shake

  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup frozen berries of choice
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • stevia, to sweeten to your liking
  • filtered water (add as your blending to desired consistency—less liquid will make it more of a pudding, add more for a more smoothie-like consistency)

Add all ingredients together in a blender and blend. Add the water as needed and to desired consistency. Makes one large shake.

Susanna Deering has a passion for nutrition and great tasting food. Her journey into the field of holistic nutrition has helped her manage her diabetes and inspired her to help others manage their health through nutrition as well. For consultations with Susanna and more information, please visit nourished-life.com. This article was originally published on Naturally Savvy.